ARCHIVED INFORMATION -- Financial Management Status Report & Five-Year Plan - October 1996

Strategic Vision #4 - Well Trained and Accountable Workforce

Financial management and program personnel throughout the Department are the cornerstone of our strengthened financial management system. Our performance plans, reward structure, hiring and training programs all support financial management accountability goals.

Financial Management Organization

The Office of the Chief Financial Officer is comprised of four primary operational organizations: Financial Improvement, Receivables, and Post Audit Operations (FIRPAO), Financial Reporting and Systems Operations (FRSO), Cash Management and Payments Operations (CMPO), and Contract and Purchasing Operations (CPO). Other Principal Offices (POs) within the Department have financial management responsibilities within their respective program areas. For example, the Office of Postsecondary Education has financial management responsibilities related to student financial assistance programs and has its own Accounting and Financial Management Service.

During FY96, OCFO reorganized to better align functional responsibilities, streamline operations, and reduce the number of management layers. Throughout the reorganization process, OCFO management worked in partnership with employees and union representatives. OCFO has reduced its number of supervisors by approximately one-half and its employee to supervisor ratio is now 11:1.

Financial Management Personnel

ED is working to streamline its operations on all fronts. However, the compelling need for a quality financial management workforce still exists. Without highly trained, motivated and service-oriented financial management staff, ED will not have the financial information and support needed to make the best use of its limited resources.

Qualifications and Training

As a first step in ensuring a well trained financial management workforce, OCFO has set a standard that all OCFO personnel will receive an average of 40 hours of job-related training annually. The responsibility for identifying and participating in appropriate training is the joint responsibility of each staff member, his or her immediate supervisor, and the division-level director. The importance of training is further stressed by the inclusion of a non-critical performance element in each employee's performance agreement. The 40-hour standard has been met in FY 1992 through FY 1995 and continues to be an objective for FY 1997.

As a second step in financial training, ED developed a one-hour program led by a facilitator from OCFO designed to reach all employees of ED. The training was presented to ED employees over an 18-month period. The course presented participants with an understanding of the impact of financial management in the realization of ED's mission. The course, an interactive session with a facilitator, included a 25 minute video featuring Education's secretary, deputy secretary, CFO and former National Performance Review Financial Management Team Leader Mike Serlin all stressing the importance of financial management.

The third phase, now under way, is the presentation of a basic accounting course with a focus on Federal government and ED applications. It consists of ten 3-hour modules and includes case study assignments modeled on the ED accounting environment. This course, taught by OCFO staff, will broaden the accounting capabilities of current employees as ED streamlines and realigns work functions. In connection with the basic accounting courses, an abbreviated version which will cover only federal accounting principles will be offered to ED staff already familiar with basic accounting.

Capacity for Evaluating and Commenting on Proposed Standards

OCFO prepared and issued comments on draft accounting and auditing standards of several boards and organizations. The bodies for whom exposure documents were commented on include: the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board (FASAB), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the General Accounting Office (GAO), the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB), and the Department of Treasury (Treasury). Members of the OCFO staff have also testified at several FASAB Public Hearings.

In addition, the Deputy CFO served on accounting principal research task forces sponsored by GASB and FASAB. ED is a voting member of the Treasury's Standard General Ledger (SGL) Board and a member of its Issues Resolution Committee. ED staff have been involved with SGL projects such as Form and Content and implementation of the Credit Reform Act of 1990 (Credit Reform).

OCFO plans to train certain technical staff on current Federal government accounting standards. The two goals for this training are: 1) to enable staff who work in finance related areas (e.g., loans receivable) to be more aware of how these standards affect their jobs and; 2) to help identify agency-specific accounting issues, which the Department can make known to FASAB, the CFO Council, central regulatory agencies and other interested parties. Both of these goals will improve ED's understanding and ability to effectively implement accounting standards.

In conjunction with CFO financial reporting projects, OCFO is working to develop stronger internal controls in the agency's automated accounting and data management system. The Department's core financial system redesign project will improve the accuracy and auditability of ED's financial statements and systems operation.

Development of Performance Measures

ED has been tracking financial management performance indicators developed by various strategic plans and organizations. ED has developed a system to measure and monitor financial management performance based on indicators defined in the OCFO Strategic Plan, the department-wide Financial Management Strategic Plan, and by OMB. Performance measurement data and graphs are contained in our FY 1995 Accountability Report, are displayed prominently throughout OCFO and are also available on the ED computer network. Necessary actions required to improve performance are taken as ED continues with its reinvention efforts.
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