Light, Heat, Action

By Force, Marie | The Journal of Government Financial Management, Spring 2002 | Go to article overview

Light, Heat, Action


Force, Marie, The Journal of Government Financial Management


The first quarter of 2002 has been rough for the accounting profession. With the failure of Enron, the nation's seventh largest corporation, and the accompanying allegations of shady accounting and auditing practices, there's no doubt we are in for long months of finger-pointing and recriminations. My first thought upon reading about Enron's collapse was how interesting it was to see the accounting practices of the private sector called into question for a change when we are all so used to the intense scrutiny and misconceptions surrounding government accounting. We all know there is a lot more to the picture than what the public hears about budget deficits, Social Security trust fund irregularities and Medicare mismanagement, to name a few of the more popular soapbox issues.

I recently attended AGA's Federal Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C., and came away amazed at the many initiatives under way today in the federal government to improve efficiency and effectiveness. Among the administration representatives, I saw true cohesion and a sincere commitment to the President's five-point management agenda. From OPM Director Kay Coles James to OMB Director Mitch Daniels to NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe and many others came the same refrain-if agencies are not yet paying attention to the management agenda and its accompanying scorecard-they will be soon. The management agenda, released in August, highlights five areas of critical concern to the Bush administration: Strategic Human Capital Planning; Competitive Sourcing; Improved Financial Management; E-Government; and Budget and Financial Performance Integration. Each of these puts the spotlight on areas of government most in need of attention. Many state and local governments are also looking at these very issues. Comptroller General of the United States David M. Walker was one of the first to speak out about the looming human capital crisis in the federal government. Just a year ago, he said, only a handful of people were talking about the fact that one-third of the federal government will be eligible to retire in the next five years-a figure James puts at 250,000 if only half of those eligible do in fact retire. Walker expressed relief that the issue now tops the President's agenda. …

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