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high boxwoods, placed six feet away from the edges of the walks. Appropriate annual maintenance pruning will assure that the boxwoods' growth is controlled in an aesthetic manner. This approach will restore the beauty of the courtyard's plantings while improving pedestrian access to the walkways.
FINANCIAL STATEMENTS Question. What year will financial statements be available for a full audit? Answer. FMS is scheduled to be implemented by the end of fiscal year 2001. Once FMS is implemented auditable financial statements will be available on a monthly accounting period basis. Since FMS is being implemented during the end of fiscal year 2001, the first full fiscal year for being able to produce an auditable financial statement from FMS is fiscal year 2002.
FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT SYSTEM Question. Arthur Andersen has spent five months studying AOC's financial management system requirements and reviewing financial software packages available on the GSA schedule. Although not subject to the Federal Financial Management Improvement Act (FFMIA), will the AOC financial systems comply?
Answer. Yes, the financial management system that is purchased and implemented by the AOC will comply with Federal financial management systems requirements applicable to Federal accounting standards and the Standard General Ledger (SGL) at the transaction level as required by FFMIA. The AOC considers the requirement for the system to be compliant with Federal standards as the most important criteria for selecting a financial software package. The AOC is considering only the systems offered by the eleven vendors on the GSA Financial Management System Software (FMSS) schedule since all of these systems have been certified by GSA as being compliant with Federal financial standards. In addition, the AOC plans to implement the new system with no software modifications, allowing easier migrations to future federally mandated software upgrades.
Question. Will the purchase of your financial management system require new hardware? If so, have you done a cost benefit analysis? How much funding will be required?
Answer. The AOC's Business Process Re-engineering plan calls for the agency to move all existing applications and the planned integrated financial, procurement, human and facilities management systems to a Unix/Oracle based platform. This platform was selected because of its well documented reliability, scalability, and performance. The Information Resource Management (IRM) division has determined that the Unix/Oracle platform is a prudent investment to service all applications. Funding of the new Unix/Oracle environment is forecasted at $4.01 million over the next 5 years. The IRM fiscal year 2000 operating budget request includes the first increment of $790,000. Below are the projected costs by fiscal year: Fiscal year: 2000
810,000 Question. Do the financial packages recommended by Arthur Andersen also meet the AOC's operational requirements, such as facilities management, project tracking and costing?
Answer. The focus of the Arthur Andersen analysis was on the AOC's core financial management requirements, inventory requirements and procurement analysis. The requirements for facilities management and project tracking/costing was limited to the financial related requirements rather than the operational requirements. It was assumed that the operational requirements for facilities management and project tracking would be performed in a separate system
or a module outside the core financial system. The analysis indicated if a vendor offered a facilities management module or a project tracking module, but there was no evaluation performed on whether these modules met AOC operational requirements in these areas.
Question. You are purchasing a financial management system, but your requirements also include procurement capabilities which are nonfinancial in nature. What weight do you put on your financial requirements as opposed to your miscellaneous requirements? Will you select a less desirable financial system because of these other requirements? If not, how will you distinguish and rate each requirement?
Answer. The financial requirements will carry the most weight in the selection of a financial management system for the AOC while the procurement requirements will carry very little weight in the selection process. The actual criteria that will be used to evaluate vendor proposals is currently under development and will be completed prior to issuing the Request for Proposal. In order to ensure that we do not select a less desirable system, we will coordinate the evaluation criteria with the GAO. Additionally, the GAO is going to provide staff assistance throughout the evaluation and implementation of FMS. Although still under development, the criteria that are expected to carry the most weight in the selection of a financial package are as follows: Compliant with Federal financial standards; operates in a 3tiered client server environment; contains inventory and project functionality; provides easy access to information; provides modern workflow capabilities, and vendor track record in implementing the software.
The AOC desires to select a modern system that is compliant with Federal financial standards, can be easily integrated with other AOC systems and will be supported by the vendor in the long term.
Question. Will these systems produce the reports required by the Senate Appropriations Committee?
Answer. The specifications for the reports required by the Senate Appropriations Committee will be included in the Statement of Work for the procurement and implementation of the Financial Management System. These reports will be available from FMS when FMS is implemented in late fiscal year 2001. In addition, the AOC plans to implement a user friendly reporting tool to allow easy access to information and the production of ad-hoc reports.
Question. Do the vendors of these systems certify that they are Y2K compliant?
Answer. The AOC is considering only the financial management systems that are certified by GSA as being compliant with the Joint Financial Management Improvement Program (JFMIP) requirements. The JFMIP technical requirements include requirements for the system to be Y2K compliant. In addition, the AOC will include a requirement in the Statement of Work that all date fields contain a four character year.
Question. Do these systems have good funds control over project and job costs? How will the funds control portion of your financial system work?
Answer. The AOC is considering only the financial management systems that are certified by GSA as being compliant with JFMIP requirements. The JFMIP requirements include funds control requirements to ensure the systems provide basic funding controls over commitments, obligations, and expenditures. The AOC will include additional funds control requirements in the Statement of Work to provide for the capability to establish project and sub-project budgets that are in addition to the appropriation budgets. The AOC expects to implement the Financial Management System with up to four levels of appropriation funds control with the levels differentiated by combinations of fund codes, program codes, organization codes, project codes and object codes. The AOC expects to implement two levels of project funds control to budget by project phase and the activities within a project phase.
Question. Did your contractor require live demonstrations from each vendor in a production environment? If not, how could your contractor determine what vendor had the best system?
Answer. The Arthur Andersen report compared the AOC's stated requirements to the software packages offered by vendors on the GSA FMSS Schedule. The purpose of the analysis was to identify the packages that potentially meet AOC's stated needs. Three vendors were recommended, based on the “down-select” criteria provided by the AOC. An additional vendor was recommended because of being the historical market leader. The analysis did not include live demonstrations from the vendors. During the proposal process, the AOC will require the vendors to perform Operational Capabilities Demonstrations (OCD's) in a technical environment similar to AOC's environment. The detailed script for the OCD will be prepared by the FMS Project Director and coordinated with GÀO. The results of the OCD will weigh heavily in the selection of a vendor.
Question. Do these systems meet AOC business needs? If not, what amount of customization will be necessary, and what are the estimated costs?
Answer. The Arthur Andersen report indicated that all 9 vendors on the GSA FMSS Schedule met AOC's core financial management requirements. The report also indicated that 3 vendors potentially meet AOC's inventory and procurement requirements in addition to the core financial management requirements. The AOC plans to implement the core financial system with no customization. No unique AOC financial requirements have been identified that would require customization of a core financial package. Whether the software packages meet all of the AOC's inventory and procurement needs will be determined during the procurement process. If the software packages perform the typical inventory and Federal procurement functions, there should be no need to perform customization. The fiscal year 2000 budget
request for the implementation of a Financial Management System does not include any funding for customization.
Question. Has the AOC considered having another Legislative Branch agency cross service its financial operations instead of implementing its own financial system? Did you solicit bids from other Legislative/Executive agencies to cross service the AOC? How do you know that buying and implementing your own system is more cost beneficial than cross servicing?
Answer. The AOC considered having another Legislative Branch agency cross service its financial operations instead of implementing a new financial system. Most of the Legislative Branch agencies are currently operating their financial systems in a main-frame environment with software that is near the end of its life cycle. The AOC did not want to incur significant implementation costs migrating to an older system, and then have to incur the costs again in a few years when the cross servicing agency migrated to a more modern system.
Question. How many employees are devoted full time to the financial management system acquisition and implementation project? Have you budgeted for the increased financial management system staff in the current year? How much will this staff cost in the out years?
Answer. Currently, there is a project director assigned full time to the project. Six additional staff will be hired gradually over the next 4-9 months in order to have the full project team on board when the software is purchased. Two of the additional staff are planned to be hired in July 1999, with the remaining coming on board in the first 3 months of fiscal year 2000. The cost of the increase in staff for fiscal year 1999 is included in our budget. The cost of the staff in the initial out years is estimated at $400,000 per year. After the complete implementation of the system, the staff will be reduced to the resources required to maintain the system.
Question. How confident are you with your procurement and implementation schedule for your financial management system?
Answer. The AOC's current procurement schedule of purchasing a system by the end of calendar year 1999 is considered aggressive. Depending on the number of proposals received and “down-selected” additional time may be necessary to evaluate the vendor proposals, and to conduct Operational Capabilities Demonstrations for each package under consideration.
The AOC is confident in the implementation schedule of beginning production operations by the end of fiscal year 2001 as long as the procurement stays on schedule. A significant delay in the procurement would affect the implementation date.
Question. What business practices will you change as a result of implementing a new financial system? What procedures/policy changes will you implement?
Answer. The financial system that is purchased by the AOC is expected to provide the configuration flexibility to allow the AOC to continue its current business practices if desired. However, it is expected that the increase in functionality provided by the new system will lead to improvement of certain business practices. The actual changes that will occur will be determined during the configuration sessions with user groups during the beginning stages of the implementation. In order to limit the impact on users, the AOC may pursue implementing certain business process changes using a phased approach after the initial implementation. An example of a business process that will be changed is the “requisition for goods and services” process. The requisition process will be improved to transform a paper intensive process to a fully electronic process.
Question. What staff changes, if any, do you believe will be necessary to implement and operate your new financial management system? How much will you save in staff years once you have automated your existing procedures?
Answer. We have determined that additional staff of 6 people (plus a project director) is required to implement the Financial Management System. This level of staff assumes an implementation where considerable contractor support is utilized. The amount of staff required to maintain the system after it is implemented has not been determined, but it is expected to be less than the AOC staff required to implement the system.
The implementation of a new Financial Management System is not expected to affect current staffing requirements in the AOC except in the Accounting Division. The Accounting Division may require 1-2 additional professional staff because of the increase in workload required to maintain a standard general ledger, produce financial reports and perform reconciliations.
The implementation of a new financial management system is not expected to save staff years. Any savings realized through the automation of manual processes will be offset by additional time spent on value added processes, such as providing better customer service or performing strategic analysis.
Question. Have you done a skills requirement analysis to determine if existing staff will have the necessary skills to operate in a new automated environment? If so, what did that analysis reveal?
Answer. A skills analysis to determine if existing staff have the necessary skills required by the new system has been performed for the technical staff, but not for the functional staff. The analysis for the functional staff is planned to be performed during this calendar year prior to the purchasing of the financial management system. Since the initial implementation of FMS will most likely involve only the current financial system users, it is assumed that the users will have the basic skills to operate an automated system. However, the AOC does plan to evaluate the users ability to operate in a "windows and mouse” environment, and if necessary have users attend training classes in these areas. In addition, the AOC will also determine if the complexity of the new system requires higher level employees such as GS_0510 accountants rather than GS_0525 accounting technicians.
The AOC has determined that its technical staff lacks the required skills to operate in the new technical environment. In order to obtain the necessary skills, the AOC is in the process of hiring staff experienced in the new technology and is sending current staff to training. It is expected that the technical staff will have 6 months experience in the new technical environment by the time the financial management package is purchased. The AOC technical staff is then expected to receive on-the-job training from the contractor during the implementation of the system.
Question. We recommended that you follow GAO guidance that your financial system project director report directly to the Architect. However, he reports to the CFO. What is your rationale for not accepting the GAO recommendation?
Answer. The AOC established the organization structure for the financial system project director to report to the CFO since this is the reporting relationship typically used by Federal agencies. Although the AOC is not covered by the CFO Act of 1990, the act specifies that the agency CFO should oversee all financial management activities including the development and maintenance of an integrated agency accounting and financial management system”.
In order to partially comply with the GAO recommendation that the financial system project director report directly to the Architect, the Architect has issued a Delegation of Authority making the financial system project director directly responsible for the proper implementation of the financial management system. The financial management system project director will continue to report to the CFO, but will meet with the Architect on a weekly basis to discuss the project status and outstanding issues relative to the implementation of the new system. The financial system project director will be the primary contact of the Architect for all financial system implementation and integration matters.
Question. You intend to interface some of your present systems with the new financial management system. What systems will that be and how much will it cost to develop interfaces? When do you anticipate having those interfaces completed?
Answer. The new financial management system will interface with the following systems: Human Resource System (currently the USDA payroll system); Computer Assisted Facilities Management System (CAFM); and Project Tracking System.
The interface with the existing payroll system will be implemented along with the initial implementation of the financial system by the end of fiscal year 2001. A preliminary estimate of $160,000 (1,280 hours) has been developed for contractor support in the design, coding and testing of the payroll interface. This estimate assumes the interface will be similar to the current interface which updates the financial system with payroll and benefit costs on a bi-weekly basis. The estimate does not include any additional costs that may be charged to the AOC by the USDA for changes in the data format.
Estimates for the development of interfaces with the CAFM system and the Project Tracking System have not been developed. The interfaces to these systems are expected to be implemented during the latter stages of the implementation towards the end of fiscal year 2003. The CAFM system is currently in the beginning stages of implementation at the AOC and the current project tracking system may be replaced prior to the end of fiscal year 2003. The cost estimates for the CAFM and Project Tracking interfaces will be developed by the end of fiscal year 2000 and included in the fiscal year 2002 budget request.
Question. Will the AOC seek funding in the future to enhance existing non-financial systems? If so, how much, when, and for what systems?
Answer. The following table reflects the AOC's fiscal year 2000 budget request and future fiscal year requests for non-financial system installations. These systems include a Human Resources system, the continuation of the installation of the Computer Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) system, and the upgrade and continued expansion of the agencies computer network. The five year total is $12,282,000. The Network Installation and Upgrade project will support all current system and e-mail applications as well as the new or expanded Financial Management, Human Resources and CAFM systems.
[In thousand of dollars)
Senator BENNETT. Thank you.
Thank you very much. It has been very informative. We appreciate your responsiveness and congratulate you on the progress that you have made.
Mr. HANTMAN. Thank you very much.
[Whereupon, at 11:50 a.m., Wednesday, March 3, the subcommittee was recessed, to reconvene subject to the call of the Chair.)