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7/21/2010
03:02 PM
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DHS Proceeds With Financial System Overhaul

Working with OMB as part of a government-wide financial systems review, the Department of Homeland Security plans to move ahead with its $450 million Transformation and Systems Consolidation project.

[This story was updated July 22.]

The Department of Homeland Security plans to move ahead with a project to modernize its financial system, the first agency to do so since the Office of Management and Budget put a halt to federal financial system modernization projects until it reviews them.

Members of the House Committee on Homeland Security sent a letter to the agency's Under Secretary of Management, Rafael Borras, concerning its Transformation and Systems Consolidation (TASC) project. The letter asked how DHS planned to proceed with the project in light of the OMB memo.

The June 28 memo called for all financial system modernization projects with a price tag of $20 million or more to be put on hold pending an agency re-evaluation and OMB review. TASC is expected to cost $450 million.

The letter said that the project "falls squarely within the purview" of the OMB memo and asked Homeland Security to indicate whether new procurements for TASC have been halted.

It also asked the agency whether it will consider an alternative to the project and if it has begun its review of TASC and, if not, when it planned to do so. The letter was signed by Bennie Thompson, chairman of the committee, and Christopher Carney, chairman of the Subcommittee on Management, Investigations and Oversight.

Financial system projects were to be halted pending review, although not indefinitely. According to a schedule attached to the OMB guidance, OMB held its first official review session with DHS on July 9. “We are moving forward by working with OMB as required on TASC, and the program is aligned to OMB’s direction on how new financial system implementations will proceed,” a DHS spokesman said via e-mail.

He said the agency will follow OMB guidance to ensure the new system is successfully implemented, as well as work with the agency's Congressional oversight committees to ensure TASC meets its goal of providing the agency with "viable financial, acquisition, and asset management functionality."

OMB's memo, issued by outgoing OMB Director Peter Orszag, called for drastic reform of IT project management across federal agencies due to problems with the process. The memo cited consistent failings in meeting budgets and deadlines, as well as problems with finished projects not meeting goals. As part of its oversight effort, OMB is also developing guidelines for better handling large IT projects.

Earlier this month, the Department of Veterans Affairs disclosed that it would scale back its Financial Logistics and Technology Enterprise program, valued at $400 million to $500 million. VA CIO Roger Baker attributed the decision, in part, to OMB's review.

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