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The Five Initatives


Making Headlines

Financial management continues to make the headlines. And for good reason - people care about their investments.

The American citizen is no exception. Taxpayers need to know that their government's finances aren't being wasted - that the right programs are being funded at the right levels. Are the accounting books in order? Do we know what it costs to perform our activities? Are our processes efficient? Can we get accurate financial information to government decision makers when they need it?

Effective financial managers can answer these questions. And first class financial management organizations can answer them positively. The Improved Financial Performance initiative of the President's Management Agenda is helping Federal Government financial managers to do just that.

Here's what we achieved during the first quarter of fiscal year 2004.

18 of the 24 largest Federal agencies completed their combined FY 2003 Performance and Accountability Reports. Eight of these were submitted 45 days after the close of the fiscal year, our FY 2004 performance standard. The financial statement audits included in these reports were all unqualified, with the exception of the Department of Defense's continued disclaimer. The U.S. Agency for International Development received its first unqualified audit and met the 45 day reporting goal. The remaining audits are expected be completed by the January 30th deadline for FY 2003 reporting.

The Department of Education demonstrated that it is using financial data in day-to-day management. The department has created management reports like "Fast Facts," which is received by managers and executives up to the Secretary, to better monitor performance. These tools are already helping Education to improve timeliness of grant awards, recover improper interest payments, improve management controls and identify financial system software "bugs." By meeting this criteria, the Department of Education joins the Environmental Protection Agency, National Science Foundation and the Social Security Administration in achieving a green status score for the Improved Financial Performance initiative.

Financial management systems that support processes with current technology continue to help agencies to have more timely and accurate information. New financial systems went live in the Departments of Commerce, State, and Transportation and the Social Security Administration during this quarter. The new system contributed to the State Department's status upgrade to yellow for the Improved Financial Performance Initiative.

Eliminating improper payments continues to be a priority for the Administration. Simply put, these errors have to go. During this quarter, all of the major 24 agencies submitted plans for complying with the Improper Payments Information Act of 2002. Most of these plans have provided good information about what steps agencies have taken, and plan to take in the future, to eliminate erroneous payments in their programs. We will be actively monitoring progress as these plans are implemented and will communicate achievements in upcoming reports.

To summarize, agencies are showing signs of being better managers of the taxpayers' dollars. During the balance of this year, we expect more headline results as we build on this quarter's progress. We look forward to sharing them with you in upcoming reports.

Linda Springer

The Five Initatives:

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