IMPROVING FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE UPDATE
Eight Agencies Meet Combined Performance and Accountability Report Deadline
Agencies continued their steady progress toward achieving requirements of the Financial Performance initiative during the fourth quarter of 2003. While there were no status improvements, this quarter's progress forms the basis for a positive outlook for future score upgrades. Nonetheless, several agencies achieved significant milestones this past quarter.
At the beginning of this Administration, the typical agency did not issue its audited financial statements until five months after the close of the fiscal year. Regardless of the quality of the auditor's opinion, stale financial information is not useful and calls into question the financial management practices of such reporting entities. To address this problem, The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced the acceleration of combined performance and accountability reports (PARs) to 45 days following the end of the fiscal year beginning with the FY 2004 reporting cycle. Last year, two years ahead of schedule, the Department of the Treasury and the Social Security Administration met this requirement. This year, that number has increased three-fold.
OMB is pleased to recognize the hard work and dedication of the financial and audit professionals at the Department of Education, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Health and Human Services, National Science Foundation, the Social Security Administration, Department of the Treasury, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Department of Veterans Affairs. These eight agencies have issued their PARs as of today, all having met the mid-November deadline. USAID's submission is especially noteworthy as this is the first year that it achieved an unqualified audit opinion on its financial statements.
It is often said that such an achievement can only be accomplished by heroic efforts. Hard work is always a factor, but this result is a tribute to detailed planning, effective management and excellent execution.
Additional PARs on a shorter timeframe are expected from the other agencies in the coming weeks. We will keep everyone, particularly those who are responsible for preparation of the consolidated government-wide financial statement, posted as they are received.
There is another significant achievement that I would like to bring to your attention. The Department of State just reached a major landmark in its quest to improve its financial management: the completion of its new Regional Financial Management System (RFMS). The system provides daily updates of funds availability, disbursements and accounting information for all 179 overseas posts. The successful completion of RFMS addresses State's material non-conformance for financial systems. This achievement positions the department to realize its 2004 goal of reaching green in status.
I look forward to communicating continued progress toward our goal of improved financial management next quarter.
The Five Initatives: