Federal Agencies Unveil Five-Year Financial Management Plan

Article excerpt

The Office of Management and Budget and the Chief Financial Officers Council have released the fourth annual Federal Financial Management Status Report & Five-Year Plan, a comprehensive look at federal plans to redesign agency and governmentwide financial statements and accounting standards, revise financial management policy and improve debt collection.

Federal financial statements

The report outlines the status and performance of accounting standards and financial reports for federal agencies. The Government Management Reform Act of 1994 required audited financial statements for all of the activities of the 24 agencies covered by the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990. As of July 1995, almost 59 of the 100 entities preparing audited financial statements received unqualified opinions, and 43 were audited without material weaknesses. The report said that in 1997 a federal governmentwide financial statement would be prepared and audited for the first time.

"For the first time ever annual audits of all the federal agencies will address financial management problems that have inhibited federal agencies from operating as efficiently as the nonfederal community," said Norwood J. Jackson Jr., deputy controller of the OMB's office of federal financial management. Jackson told the Journal that the first goal was to issue organizationwide financial statements on each federal agency and to have them audited and submitted to the OMB in the spring of 1997. The second goal was to produce financial statements on the government as a whole for fiscal year 1997. "That audit will be done by the General Accounting Office," said Jackson. "The inspectors general and CPA firms will perform the audits of all the agencies in support of the governmentwide audit."

Streamlining management reports

The report said six federal agencies were creating prototype accountability reports for fiscal year 1995 to serve as models for other agencies. The report said these reports would integrate financial management and program performance information required by the CFOs Act, the Government Performance and Review Act and the Federal Managers' Financial Integrity Act.

"Currently, all these reports are due at different times," said Jackson. "This is an effort to consolidate the information required by various reports to be able to focus on all the issues at one time. …