Tackling the Federal Push for Financial Accountability

The Obama Administration is taking a hard line on financial accountability – for both agencies and the contractors who serve them. Business processes are at the heart of this increased scrutiny – the better the processes (in terms of visibility and efficiency) the smoother the reporting back to Congress and other governmental authorities.

In late August, federal CIO Vivek Kundra spoke publicly about 26 IT projects recently dubbed “high risk” by the Office of Management and Budget. (On June 28, OMB halted spending on financial systems modernization projects.) Kundra said the projects, spanning 15 federal agencies and exceeding $30 billion in lifecycle costs, require thorough review and better management planning.

“This isn’t about killing projects, it’s about making them run better and faster,” Kundra said.

The lack of credible budgetary reporting back to the sources of federal appropriations is an ongoing issue among some agency decision-makers. This difficulty extends even to spending on the Stimulus initiative. While many government agencies have been able to allocate their stimulus dollars to worthwhile projects, ten agencies – including the USDA, Department of Commerce and Department of Homeland Security – have spent less than half of the money to which they were entitled.

The slow decisions as to how to spend stimulus money relate to making certain of tangible, measureable results. And this federal emphasis on improved accountability doesn’t stop at the agency level. Lawmakers are seeking to impose tougher standards on the contractors that fulfill the projects to which appropriated dollars are allocated.

Business Process Management software is ideally suited to address the ongoing problem of accountability. Through BPM, an organization can gain better visibility into its project related decisions – along with an added dimension of improved control, documentation trails, and audits. Agencies and the contractors that serve them can gain better control of processes, improve decision-making and create confidence that projects are being executed responsibly and well.

Those are things we all want – and things we all deserve as tax-paying citizens.