Labor NCFMS deployment flawed, says GAO
The Labor Department deployed its new core financial management system without first sufficiently assessing business unit needs and without comprehensive testing, says the Government Accountability Office.
Labor turned on its New Core Financial Management System in January 2010, but thanks to NCFMS transaction and reporting errors, independent financial auditors were unable for the first time in 13 years to issue a clean opinion for the department's fiscal year-end financial statement. The NCFMS prime contractors is Reston, Va.-based Global Computer Enterprises, which won a NCFMS contract in 2008 worth up to $50 million to provide the system, support its implementation and migrate data from the old system.
A lack of business manager perspectives led to NCFMS officials from the office of the chief financial officer to tracking NCFMS errors without having determined how the errors affected business unit productivity or having linked them to financial management performance, a Bureau of Labor Statistics financial manager told GAO auditors.
OCFO testing also did not provide reasonable assurance that NCFMS would perform as expected, the report says. Labor personnel involved in testing had to rely on their own knowledge in evaluating whether test results were accurate, the report says, which is problematic since it's difficult for testers to remember all the factors by which a test result should be evaluated. Test results were not adequately documented and the tests themselves were not always comprehensive, the report adds.
Labor official told GAO auditors that many of the issues related to system implementation stemmed from users getting accustomed to NCFMS rather than a lack of stakeholder investment, a position the GAO disagrees with.
"While we agree that relearning basic processes can be challenging for users, it does not account for the range of system problems experienced nor the volume or types of engineering changes required after NCFMS implementation," the report says.
As for the testing, Labor officials also told the GAO that they hired an independent verification and validation contractor that verified the system testing--a response the GAO essentially rejects as immaterial, since "our review of the documentation provided by the department to support its testing activities indicated that these processes had not been effectively implemented."
- download the report, GAO-11-157 (.pdf)
Labor Dept. loses clean audit opinion thanks to IT system