May 5, 2010
FROM MICAH CHEATHAM
Tuesday was the second and final day of the CFO Conference. The day’s activities captured the momentum of the previous day and built up to a collaborative session where the group considered key transformational issues the community is facing today.
Day 2 kicked off with a detailed discussion of one of GSA’s top management priorities: the Billing and Accounts Receivable project, or BAAR. Doug Glenn, the CFO Director of Finance, and Travis Bell of the CFO Office of Financial Systems “made the case” for BAAR and the changes this major systems implementation will require.
More than 90 financial management professionals from across GSA’s organizations and regions heard Doug and Travis discuss the need for BAAR, which will replace GSA’s 30-year-old, COBOL-based accounts receivable system. They also discussed the significant changes in our business processes and culture that BAAR implementation will require.
We also got a demo of Web Presentment from our financial system provider, CGI Federal. Web Presentment is a new way of billing customers. Web Presentment allows GSA to reduce our paper printing by delivering bills to our customers over the web. But it also reduces paper consumption for our customers by offering drill-downs, customized reports, and on-line customer issue resolution.
Later in the day, Vivi Tran-Chu of the FAS Controller’s Office led an impromptu discussion on data management and related issues impacting the community. What an incredible opportunity to build a common understanding of issues impacting budget, accounting, reporting, and financial systems!
It was a fantastic conversation, at an opportune moment, and it helped to cement the feelings of unity and collaboration that were built up through the conference!
May 4, 2010
FROM MICAH CHEATHAM
This is my inaugural blog as acting CFO. Kathleen Turco, our CFO for the past eight years, has accepted the position of Associate Administrator for Governmentwide Policy here in GSA, and I will be acting until a permanent CFO is selected. It seems like I should be introducing myself or sharing my priorities and goals, but the CFO Conference is today and tomorrow, and I really wanted to use this blog share the events of the conference. I’ll start laying out some objectives in another blog.
The CFO Conference is in Orlando, FL, and timed to coincide with the annual GSA EXPO. Today was just a half day, but there was a great deal of content packed into four and a half hours! The attendees are a great cross-section of GSA’s financial community, with the PBS Office of the Assistant Commissioner for Budget and Financial Management (PF), the Office of the FAS Controller (QB), and all CFO offices represented. We also have the PBS Regional CFOs joining us, and it was a great opportunity to finally put faces with names I frequently see in e-mail!
Today’s session kicked off with an introduction from KT. She and her immediate staff have been organizing this event for months, and it was great to see it all come together. All the presentations were top-notch, and truly engaging. The official theme for the conference is “transformation”, but the underlying message was one of unity, cooperation, and collaboration across the GSA financial community. We heard from representatives of PBS, FAS, and the CFO Office of Finance, the GM&A Controller, and the CFO Intern Program today, and every presentation described highly collaborative efforts to transform our processes, procedures, and our workforce.
We had a couple of special guests that stopped by today, as well: GSA’s Deputy Administrator, Susan Brita, followed by our Administrator, Martha Johnson. Ms. Brita gave us some kind words of support and encouragement for the financial community and, later, Ms. Johnson addressed the group from the podium. The Administrator shared her priorities of: Continuing GSA’s sound and timely implementation of the Recovery Act, creating a culture of innovation and sustainability at GSA, delivering Open Government, and enhancing the acquisition workforce. She shared with us her experiences and recent successes that GSA has enjoyed and also introduced us to some new initiatives that are developing. It all tied in nicely and helped provide even more purpose and context to the presentations of the day!
May 3, 2010
This will be my last post as GSA’s Chief Financial Officer. I am moving on to become the Associate Administrator for the Office of Governmentwide Policy on Monday, May 3, 2010. I wanted to take this opportunity to post one last entry on the CFO Blog. GSA is making major strides in strategic planning and decision making, and I take great pride in the leadership role that the Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO) has played in making that happen. I am also very proud of the work we have done within OCFO to ensure that we are focused on supporting accomplishment of GSA’s mission and strategic goals and aligning our day to day work with the Administrator’s focus areas of Customer Intimacy, Operational Excellence and Innovation.
For the past eight years I have been privileged to lead a tremendous group of dedicated professionals who continually strive to exceed expectations. Together, we have made significant progress in expanding transparency and accountability and demonstrating financial integrity. The OCFO team should feel a tremendous sense of pride in their accomplishments.
I believe that we have brought an enterprise-wide perspective and intimate knowledge of the goals and objectives of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and GSA’s Congressional Appropriators to issues. Combined with meaningful, timely analysis that integrates performance and financial data, this has allowed OCFO to:
- Drive Strategic Planning and supports strategic decision-making, including policy and goal development, and performance measurement and target selection
- Ensure budget requests and resource allocations support policies and objectives of the Administrator and the Administration
- Report financial and program performance data within the Agency, to OMB & the Hill, and TO THE PUBLIC
- Facilitate re-prioritization of goals and re-allocation of resources to ensure the Agency stays “on target” to meet goals and objectives
- Maintain our clean financial opinion
- Strengthen our management of internal controls and audit follow-up
- Improve performance and efficiency in financial operations and transaction processing and financial analysis
- Implement a major financial systems modernization effort
I have enjoyed my time as GSA’s CFO. It has been challenging but also very rewarding. I am very much looking forward to the challenges and rewards of leading OGP. Please keep an eye out for the new OGP Blog – coming soon to a computer near you.
April 21, 2010
As GSA’s Performance Improvement Officer, I am heavily involved in formulating and reporting on GSA’s high priority performance goals (HPPG). These short term goals are an initiative by President Obama’s Chief Performance Officer, Jeff Zients, to show progress or “move the needle” on our most important priorities. To support the missions of our customers, our HPPGs are sustainability, open government and strategic workplace solutions. I’d like to share with you some more about each of GSA’s HPPGs.
GSA will offer a free, electronic greenhouse gas tracking and management tool to all agencies. We will review federal management policymaking and focus on sustainable opportunities for travel, transportation and operations. Federal policies need to change to incorporate sustainability in everything we do: exposing waste, recognizing full value and costs, calling on us to be full citizens of the world, and therefore, transforming us. GSA has been an innovator in historic restoration and historic building reuse before it was called “greening.” We are broadening our sustainability focus by adding green government products and services on our schedules to green the government’s supply chain. We are putting in place plans to drive data center consolidation and greener, more efficient and secure information technology solutions.
Our second HPPG is to expand open government through improving our transparency, participation, and collaboration. GSA’s Office of Citizen’s Service is a leader in transparency through its efforts to open up government with USA.GOV. We provide citizens with multiple channels of information to access Federal, state and local government websites. Citizen’s Service leads open government efforts by offering other agencies new media and social networking tools. GSA gave twenty-three federal agencies online tools, at no cost, with all policy clearances, in 57 days to engage with the public. A number of agencies gained the capacity to step up to the Open Government mandate by using GSA’s solution idea dialogue tool.
Strategic Workplace Solutions
The third goal is to develop strategic portfolio plans for our customers. GSA must form partnerships with customers to form long-term solutions for agencies as a whole. The federal workplace is changing with telework and virtual work. This requires innovation and change on the part of GSA and how we offer real estate solutions. “Work is what you do and not where you do it,” said Administrator Johnson recently. It will require collective thinking and planning to meet changing customer workspace solutions.
This summer, OMB will put up a website, Performance.gov where the public and all our customers can see our goals, our action plans to achieve those goals, and our progress toward achieving them. This will give all of us: employees, customers and stakeholders a common understanding of where GSA is going and how it plans to get there. That is a high priority goal to inspire any Performance Improvement Officer.
April 9, 2010
I want to extend my thanks to each of the General Services Administration (GSA) Services and Staff Offices for their continued support this past year. It is due to their strong staff and commitment to “doing the job right” that GSA earned the sixth consecutive Association of Government Accountants’ (AGA) Certificate of Excellence in Accountability Reporting (CEAR) for our Performance and Accountability Report (PAR) for fiscal year 2009. Receiving this award acknowledges GSA’s hard work and its preparation of an excellent 2009 PAR.
AGA’s CEAR is the highest form of recognition federal government management reporting and recognized outstanding accountability reporting. GSA’s PAR provides a comprehensive understanding of our fiscal and programmatic accomplishments and allows readers the opportunity to assess financial stewardship and evaluate program performance. Additionally, our PAR ensures we are in step with customer intimacy by showing what GSA accomplished with taxpayer dollars and the challenges that remain. This is a tremendous honor for GSA and further demonstrates that we are committed to open government, operational excellence, and transparency.
The Office of the Chief Financial Officer is committed to using our resources to always improve on the delivery of GSA’s mission and continue to strive for excellence in financial management. This accomplishment is a testament to the determination and steadfastness of the great GSA Team.
GSA’s PAR is available at: www.gsa.gov\afr2009
We are GSA and it is an exciting time to be at GSA. We are celebrating our 60th anniversary of serving the American Public. We are thrilled Administrator Martha Johnson is on-board. We have many plans and goals in play, but I want to take a minute and highlight what we have accomplished in the last year. Have you read GSA’s 2009 Report to Citizens? The report offers the public a quick snapshot of how GSA’s programs and business lines benefits citizens. We are proud to show those we work for, the American citizen and our Federal customers, what GSA is all about!
GSA’s 2009 A Report to Citizens provides an overview of our agency’s role in helping stimulate the economy using the Recovery Act. You can read how PBS is moving quickly to lead the modernization of federal buildings to energy-efficient buildings and FAS’ effort to “green the fleet.” We discuss how Citizens Services is fostering public engagement and making information accessible through portals like USA.gov and Data.gov.
Our Report to Citizen’s highlights two important budgeting and accounting documents. The first is the 2010 Congressional Justification, which communicates to Congress GSA’s policy proposals and how they drive requests for funding. The second is the 2009 Agency Financial Report (AFR), communicating key performance and financial results. The AFR was designed with the public in mind, with a web-based format, and even contains an interactive financial data gadget that we encourage citizens to explore. What do you think? Let me know – I welcome input to improve our work.
To see the 2009 Report to Citizens and other annual reports, please visit http://www.gsa.gov/annualreport. I appreciate any feedback and welcome your comments on what you thought about this report: www.ChiefFinancialOfficer@gsa.gov.
The big snow last week left me with lots of time to reflect. One of the big things on my mind was performance. The Obama Administration appointed a Chief Performance Officer, Jeff Zients, to get a handle on improving performance across government. Jeff asked each agency to appoint a Performance Improvement Officer (PIO) and I have been doing so since last summer. The PIO’s have been focusing on how each agency will “put performance first” through a three-pronged approach:
1. Use Performance Information to Lead, Learn, and Improve Outcomes. Agency leaders set a few high-priority goals and use constructive data-driven reviews to keep their organizations on track to deliver on these objectives.
2. Communicate Performance Coherently and Concisely for Better Results and Transparency. The federal government will candidly communicate to the public the priorities, problems, and progress of government programs, explaining the reasons behind past trends, the impact of past actions, and future plans. In addition, agencies will strengthen their capacity to learn from experience and experiments.
3. Strengthen Problem-Solving Networks. The federal government will tap into and encourage practitioner communities, inside and outside of government, to work together to improve outcomes and performance management practices.
The first action item that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has requested from agencies is to develop High Priority Performance Goals (HPPGs). GSA’s new Administrator, Martha Johnson, has jumped right into this effort and is working enterprise-wide themes and goals to demonstrate how GSA will improve its performance across the agency. I will have more on this effort in my future blogs.
What do you think of the “putting performance first”? How do you think it applies to GSA’s programs and business lines? Send me a note at ChiefFinancialOfficer@gsa.gov
Like all organizations today, GSA is under increasing pressure to provide business services at a lower cost while striving for performance excellence. Within the budget and finance community, we know that we need to become more efficient at providing analysis, processing payables and receivables, and operating the financial system. During 2009, we launched the use of Lean Six Sigma (LSS) methodology to help us.
LSS is a tool or methodology that assists us in identifying where we have issues and where we can improve are work with our customers. By applying LSS principles to projects provides structure through a phased-project management approach and rigor by forcing data-driven decision-making.
I particularly like the fact that LSS provides the OCFO staff with a platform to challenge the status quo and empowers them to drive and take ownership of changes. True change comes from within an organization – from the bottom up – I know my staff on the front line can solve the problem if given the chance to work it.
We first applied LSS when presented with a major problem – too many worksheet adjustments outside of our financial system of record and the potential for endangering our clean opinion. As CFO, this made me stop in my pumps – we needed to solve this problem immediately. We introduced LSS to a group of GSA’s accountants and asked them to conduct a “kaizen” event to determine how to reduce the number and dollar volume of adjustments to our financial statements conducted outside of our financial system of record. The worksheet adjustment team exceeded my expectations and identified several significant actions we could take to ensure adjustments were made earlier in the workflow. Most importantly, we achieved our overall goal – retaining our GSA FY 2009 clean opinion.
For FY 2010, we have several LSS projects underway including working to complete ongoing projects related to improving our Internal Controls program and reducing the number of paper invoices we process, and beginning phase II of our efforts to reduce worksheet adjustments. We have also initiated three additional projects that will look to enhance segregation of duties in our systems, improve internal budget processes and procedures, and support our planned integration of billing and accounts receivable (BAAR) functionality into our primary financial system.
I see LSS as a tool that brings together the expertise of our knowledgeable staff and helps everyone to be involved with driving changes. I am very pleased with the positive results of our initial efforts – if you know of someone who is participating in a LSS effort, asked them about it. Ask your supervisor if and when you can be involved in the next LSS project.
Comments, questions and thoughts on LSS – send them to ChiefFinancialOfficer@gsa.gov
The FY 2012 Performance Management Process (PMP) is off to a great start. I was thrilled with the buzz around the Strategic Assessment Workshop we held on January 12 and 13. The Workshop focused on writing Long-Term Performance Goals that tie GSA’s strategic goals into specific actions Service and Staff Offices (SSO) can use to manage GSA programs. We had fabulous participation by every SSO.
Acting Administrator Steve Leeds kicked off our workshop by speaking for the first time about GSA’s new strategic goals: Innovation, Customer Intimacy, and Operational Excellence. He and I are excited about using these new goals to drive GSA’s performance to the next level. The new goals will be the foundation of our new strategic plan. Long-Term Performance Goals tied to the new strategic goals will be included in all SES personal commitments and drive budget allocation for FY 2012 and beyond.
After hearing from Steve, we split into GSA-wide groups with staff from each SSO. We discussed the high priority performance goals and strategic themes in the Administrator’s Guidance and assessed them against the criteria for good Long-Term Performance Goals. One response from the exit survey said, “It really helped to hear other perspectives from different parts of GSA and be able to bounce ideas around.”
The second day, folks broke into groups by SSO to formulate draft Long-Term Performance Goals in the morning. After lunch, we presented the draft goals to the heads of the SSOs and the Acting Administrator. I received enthusiastic feedback from the senior leadership team after the session. Done right, the PMP will help us use the strategic goals to drive changes throughout GSA. I can’t wait to see the final Long-Term Performance Goals and measures on February 26.
Tell me your ideas for additional strategic assessments at GSA – what do you think are the strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities in your business line or program? Write to me at ChiefFinancialOfficer@gsa.gov
Off to work on the long term performance goals – KT
Through this blog, I hope to share our successes and insights as we pursue a GSA-wide culture of financial integrity. One of the first things I will be discussing is the role of the C-suite in driving and supporting the agency mission, the Performance Management Process (PMP); the Recovery Act; Clean Opinions; how we interact with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Treasury, and the Hill; Financial Systems; and just what is Lean Six Sigma and how are we using it.
I welcome your comments and views. The end goal is to share ideas and thoughts. Send your comments and thoughts to: ChiefFinancialOfficer@gsa.gov.