Pages Menu
Categories Menu

Financial Management

Q and A: All about the New A-123

Posted by on Oct 17, 2016 in Featured, Financial Management | 0 comments

Q and A: All about the New A-123

In September, Management Concepts presented a free webinar—Easy as A-123: What You Need to Know About the Update—highlighting the significant changes to OMB Circular A-123 Management’s Responsibility for Enterprise Risk Management and Internal Control. During the Q&A, there was time to answer only a few questions from agency staff, but many good ones were submitted. Below are answers to the most representative questions. What is required for Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) in 2016? Whereas A-123 is generally effective for 2016—except for...

read more

Analysis Paralysis: Find Time to Get the Croissant with Your Cup of Coffee

Posted by on Oct 11, 2016 in Analytics, Financial Management | 0 comments

Analysis Paralysis: Find Time to Get the Croissant with Your Cup of Coffee

You’ve just submitted the report that your supervisor wanted on projected HR costs for next quarter. As you lean back to enjoy your second cup of coffee and begin to tackle your next project, an email asking you to run the analysis based on a different set of assumptions pops up in your inbox. So much for getting a head-start on that other project. We’ve all been in this situation at least once. I’ll be the first to admit that in my early years as an analyst, I found myself copying and pasting – creating new worksheets for each request. Soon...

read more

OMB Circular A-123 Revision

Posted by on Aug 11, 2016 in Financial Management | 10 comments

OMB Circular A-123 Revision

ERM – Far Reaching Requirements for Agencies in new A-123 The long-awaited OMB Circular A-123 Management’s Responsibility for Enterprise Risk Management and Internal Control finally was issued on July 15, 2016.  We all knew that it would contain new requirements for Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) but did not know exactly what it would require, and what else would change or be added.  For starters, the document grew from 16 substantive pages to a little over 48 pages.  That gives you some idea of the scope of the changes.  Below is a...

read more

IT’S CRUNCH TIME! Fiscal Year-End Spending

Posted by on Jul 15, 2016 in Financial Management, Workforce Management | 0 comments

IT’S CRUNCH TIME! Fiscal Year-End Spending

The end of the fiscal year is rapidly approaching…and you know what that means… Yep!  We’ve got a lot of things to get obligated – things we need but either haven’t been able to purchase yet, or things we haven’t had the funding for.  There’s hope that – as often happens – “they” will find some funding that’s available and we’ll get some of it.  It may be late in the year, but we’ll take it! Did you miss our complimentary webinar last week on the ins and outs of fiscal year-end spending? Don’t worry – an archive recording and the presentation...

read more

Improper Payment Reduction: Slow, but Steady

Posted by on Apr 27, 2016 in Financial Management | 0 comments

Improper Payment Reduction: Slow, but Steady

What’s Improper? Well, for one thing, improper payments by the Federal government. One definition of improper is: “Not in accordance with rules and standards.” When it comes to payments made by the Federal government – we’re talking trillions per year – there are lots of rules and standards, and even a few laws. Notwithstanding all the laws and rules, however, the Federal government still manages to make more than $100 billion in improper payments per year – 2015 estimate: $137 billion. To put that in perspective, only about 50 countries on...

read more

Government’s Mistakes in Payments: Does It Lose the Right to Restitution?

Posted by on Apr 21, 2016 in Financial Management | 0 comments

Government’s Mistakes in Payments: Does It Lose the Right to Restitution?

The fiscal rules governing the use of Federal funds are complicated. As a result, mistakes happen. Errors often include making overpayments to Federal employees. If an employee receives such a payment, who bears the responsibility for the mistake – the employee or the government? In other words, does the employee have to repay the money even if the employee thought he or she was entitled to it and did not know that the payment amount was incorrect? Employees, in general, have to return the funds. Recently, this result happened even though the...

read more

ASMC NCR PDI: The Biggest One Yet

Posted by on Mar 24, 2016 in Financial Management | 0 comments

ASMC NCR PDI: The Biggest One Yet

More than 1,500 financial management professionals filled the Atrium of the Ronald Reagan Building on March 10 for the American Society of Military Comptroller’s (ASMC) National Capital Region (NCR) Professional Development Institute (PDI). This was the largest NCR PDI yet and Management Concepts felt it with attendees covering the exhibit area! From Big Data to Shared Services to Audit Success, the sessions covered a variety of topics and many rooms were filled over capacity due to the significant interest in all of these areas. The DoD FM...

read more

AGA NLT: The Training Event for Federal Financial Management Leaders

Posted by on Mar 3, 2016 in Financial Management | 0 comments

AGA NLT: The Training Event for Federal Financial Management Leaders

AGA hosted another stellar event at the Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center last week. The AGA NLT (National Leadership Training) bought hundreds of leaders together from Federal agencies and private sector to discuss shared services, millennials in the workforce, risk management, change management, and a variety of other topics. While OMB Deputy Controller Mark Reger taught us what to do to prepare for the Presidential transition, we also learned the importance of leadership skills such as negotiating, transparency, and...

read more

Where Does Quality Come From?

Posted by on Feb 18, 2016 in Financial Management | 0 comments

Where Does Quality Come From?

What’s the relationship of quality to internal controls? In the workaday world of government, we don’t spend a lot of time focusing on quality. Why don’t we? First of all, most government employees feel like they have more than one job to do. Not enough time to deal with quality issues. Also, most of us take for granted that over time, “those people in charge” have made sure that quality is within standards and that same thing is happening now. But is it? This brings up a few questions: Do standards of quality even exist for the work we are...

read more

Can the Government Violate Existing Policy to Save Money?

Posted by on Jan 27, 2016 in Financial Management | 0 comments

Can the Government Violate Existing Policy to Save Money?

While the Consolidated Appropriations Act passed in December raised agency spending limits, the increase was modest. As a result, Federal budgets remain tight. “Frugal” and “thrifty” continue to be the spending themes for agencies. Using taxpayer money efficiently is commendable. This is particularly true given the current political environment. What happens, however, when the goal of saving money conflicts with an existing policy? The decision by the General Services Board of Contract Appeals (GSBCA) in Felix Valentin, GSBCA 16621-TRAV...

read more

Acquisition and Appropriations Law – Making the Connections

Posted by on Jan 20, 2016 in Acquisition, Financial Management | 0 comments

Acquisition and Appropriations Law – Making the Connections

There are many intersections between the two disciplines of Acquisition and Appropriations Law. Federal Acquisition managers more and more must have a fundamental working knowledge of Appropriations Law. Let’s review one of those important areas of connection: applying the Bona Fide Needs Rule with associated scope changes in a contract modification. Contracting officers must certainly be familiar with the Bona Fide Needs Rule/Law (31 USC 1502) to ensure proper year fund use. This seminal doctrine within the body of Appropriations Law states...

read more

Fraud and the Role of Internal Controls

Posted by on Dec 11, 2015 in Financial Management | 1 comment

Fraud and the Role of Internal Controls

Fraud is defined as “perversion of truth” or “false representation of fact” where the government is a victim. Obviously the fraudster hopes to gain at the expense of the government. Most fraudulent activity in the Federal government does not make national news or the front page of the Washington Post. Therefore, we are not aware of most of it. If you read the semi-annual reports of the Federal inspectors general, however, you can start to get a sense of the magnitude of fraud. It is not small. One notable case at NASA involved a large batch...

read more

The “ABC’s” of Economy Act Intergovernmental Transactions

Posted by on Oct 16, 2015 in Financial Management | 0 comments

The “ABC’s” of Economy Act Intergovernmental Transactions

Intragovernmental Transactions (reimbursable transactions) abound in the Federal government today. But what is the primary law that allows one agency to do work for another and collect reimbursement fees? You guessed it, the Economy Act (EA)! A basic understanding of the EA by resource officials is critical to spending and accepting reimbursable funds properly. This 1932 based law was initially intended to help expand government work and fight our way out of the Great Depression. The authority found in 31 USC 1535 specifies four conditions...

read more

Paying for Non-Federal Travel

Posted by on Oct 13, 2015 in Financial Management | 0 comments

Paying for Non-Federal Travel

Can appropriated funds ever be used to pay travel expenses for a non-Federal person? Don lives and works in Houston for NASA. He was recently notified that he will receive NASA’s “Top Employee” award at NASA headquarters in Washington and wants his wife to accompany him. Can NASA pay for Don’s wife’s travel expenses to accompany him? We can go straight to the Red Book which has the answer to everything…at least everything pertaining to the use of appropriated funds! Here’s what we’d find: “Normally the Federal government will NOT...

read more

To Shutdown or Not

Posted by on Sep 23, 2015 in Financial Management, Workforce Management | 0 comments

To Shutdown or Not

It’s seven days until a partial shutdown of the U.S. government could occur. If Congress does not pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) or 12 appropriation bills, or the President vetoes legislation sent to him, then we could have a funding gap, something that has happened 18 times since Congress changed the fiscal year to a start date of October 1 in 1977. We all know why this happened. The gap will start in Guam, “where America’s day starts,” 14 hours ahead of Washington time. So, by 10:00 a.m. on September 30, hopefully we know. A gap will...

read more

FY End Spending – a Webinar Recap

Posted by on Aug 31, 2015 in Financial Management | 2 comments

FY End Spending – a Webinar Recap

On August 19 Management Concepts conducted a one-hour webinar entitled It’s About Time: Appropriations Law and Year-End Spending Webinar. More than 300 attendees joined us to understand key appropriations law time factors particularly as we approach the end of the fiscal year. Many related topics were covered but three stood out: recognizing legitimate year-end spending, understanding how to charge the correct fiscal year in accordance with the Bona Fide Needs rule and finally, what steps to take if the wrong FY is selected including related...

read more

Integrating Internal Controls with Best Practices

Posted by on Aug 28, 2015 in Financial Management, Project Management | 2 comments

Integrating Internal Controls with Best Practices

In my previous blogs I talked about the different components that comprise the organizational environment where best practices can survive and thrive and the necessary role that leaders play in ensuring best practices are understood and followed through proper governance. In this blog I’ll address how the organization’s internal control program can ensure best practices become a vital part of the culture and management fabric in an organization. Internal control has a rocky history in the Federal government. I can remember when it was...

read more

What’s the RISK in Ignoring RISK?

Posted by on Aug 25, 2015 in Financial Management | 0 comments

What’s the RISK in Ignoring RISK?

Everybody knows what risk is: The possibility that something can go wrong. But the question is this: How often do we consider risk in the Federal workplace? Now if you work in the Department of Defense or the Department of Homeland Security, you think about risk a lot, BUT mainly at the mission level…because those agencies are all about dealing with the risk to our national security. But what about the risks that exist in our week-in and week-out operations? In our day-to-day work? “Wait!” many people say. “I don’t have any risks in my day to...

read more

AGA Rocked Music City at PDT 2015

Posted by on Jul 22, 2015 in Financial Management | 0 comments

AGA Rocked Music City at PDT 2015

I had the privilege of attending the Association of Government Accountants (AGA) Professional Development Training (PDT) in Nashville last week and returned with great information and feedback to help Management Concepts meet the developing needs of the Financial Management (FM) community. I kicked PDT off by attending the Executive Session titled “Enabling a High-Quality FM Workforce for the 21st Century and Beyond.” After listening to a panel of experts we broke off into a very interactive session discussing ideas for talent development and...

read more

ASMC PDI Recap: Hot Topics

Posted by on Jun 9, 2015 in Financial Management | 0 comments

ASMC PDI Recap: Hot Topics

We recently attended the American Society of Military Comptroller (ASMC) Professional Development Institute (PDI) in New Orleans where we hosted a booth as well as had several of our instructors deliver mini-courses and workshops. This year’s event was kicked off with a Welcome Reception at the WWII Museum and showcased Tom Hanks’ film production of “Beyond All Boundaries.” The reception was a fantastic way to bring all attendees together and honor our veterans. The general focus of the event was the DoD FM Certification Program. Tracy...

read more

Guide to the Green Book

Posted by on May 28, 2015 in Financial Management | 0 comments

Guide to the Green Book

“Hey! Let’s talk about how to get those reports out more timely. You need to make some procedural adjustments.” That’s management talking. That’s management holding someone accountable. That’s management doing what it’s supposed to be doing, according to the Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government – aka the “Green Book.” Among the many things managers are responsible for; they “should evaluate performance and hold individuals accountable for their internal control responsibilities.”(Control Environment standard, Principle #5...

read more

GAO Appropriations Law Forum 2015 Recap

Posted by on Apr 29, 2015 in Financial Management | 0 comments

GAO Appropriations Law Forum 2015 Recap

GAO held its Annual Appropriations Law Forum on March 12, 2015 to coincide with the publication of the annual update of the third edition of Principles of Federal Appropriations Law (Red Book). The session for invited agency fiscal lawyers only included an overview of what it considered significant decisions issued in 2014, with panel discussions on donations, gifts, and free services; and an important legal opinion regarding the obligation of military bonuses. The electronic update, as you may recall, is a cumulative effort of changes...

read more

Career Resolutions for You and Your Staff

Posted by on Jan 22, 2015 in Acquisition, Coaching & Mentoring, Financial Management, Grants & Assistance, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management, Workforce Management | 0 comments

Career Resolutions for You and Your Staff

Each January, we all make resolutions with varying degrees of sincerity and dedication. As we get further and further from New Year celebrations, life has a way of creeping in. Achieving lifestyle changes is not solely about exercise or dieting; it should also be about improving your professional competence and positioning yourself and/or your staff for future success. This year, why not try a different resolution? Are you an individual trying to manage your career? Resolve to focus on your career. Ask for the stretch assignment. Explore...

read more

Does Anyone Look at Those End-of-Course Evaluations Anyway?

Posted by on Nov 12, 2014 in Acquisition, Financial Management, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 2 comments

Does Anyone Look at Those End-of-Course Evaluations Anyway?

When you complete an evaluation, do you ever wonder if anyone actually looks at your responses? Do companies take your feedback seriously and make changes based on what you have to say? If they are asking for your feedback, they should review it and take action when warranted. Anyone who has taken one of Management Concepts training courses knows there will be an end-of-course evaluation to complete. Why? It’s good practice to collect students’ feedback on courses they’ve just taken. We collect feedback about the learning experience including...

read more

Are Executive Agencies Always Bound by Comptroller General (GAO) Appropriation Law Decisions?

Posted by on Nov 6, 2014 in Financial Management | 0 comments

Are Executive Agencies Always Bound by Comptroller General (GAO) Appropriation Law Decisions?

Well that may just depend on who you ask! GAO certainly thinks they are. The Management Concepts Press Appropriations Law Answer Book addresses this conflict beginning with a quote from the GAO Red Book (Principles of Federal Appropriations Law):  “A decision regarding an account of the government is binding on the executive branch and the Comptroller General himself.” The Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) disagrees that GAO decisions are binding on executive agencies. That office has a longstanding precedent that GAO’s...

read more

Agency Managers Get Needed Tool – a New Green Book

Posted by on Oct 8, 2014 in Financial Management | 0 comments

How can a green book help managers? Managers are required by law to assess their internal control each year, and they need a guide in doing that.  “The Green Book” (formal title: Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government) is such a guide. This guide is developed and published by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The new edition came out in September 2014, and is the first new edition since 1999. After managers complete their internal control assessments, their agency heads must report to the President and the Congress...

read more

How to Make Training “Stick”

Posted by on Sep 10, 2014 in Acquisition, Financial Management, Grants & Assistance, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

How to Make Training “Stick”

As summer is ending and kids are going back to school, I was thinking about ways to get the most out of learning. While there are many reasons for attending a training class, most of us take training to meet a certification requirement, or because we need to improve/expand our skills. Just like we tell our kids to do in school, we know that during training, it’s important to take good notes, interact positively with our instructor and classmates, and pay attention to the lessons that are covered. Doing these things will get you through the...

read more

How Do I Value My Assets? Understanding Federal Financial Accounting Technical Release #15

Posted by on Sep 4, 2014 in Financial Management | 0 comments

Accumulating costs for the purposes of properly capitalizing assets can be very challenging for agencies with large complex acquisitions. For agencies like DoD and NASA, asset capitalization can be especially difficult.  In fact, appropriately valuing assets is one of the most significant challenges to audit readiness.  The Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board’s (FASAB) most recent Technical Release addresses this issue directly. The Federal Financial Accounting Technical Release #15:  Implementation Guidance for General Property,...

read more

How Other Professional Certifications Play into the DoD FM Certification Requirements

Posted by on Aug 28, 2014 in Financial Management | 1 comment

The DoD Financial Management (FM) Certification is different than other certifications you may be familiar with because it is course-based rather than test-based. It is also based on established DoD FM and leadership competencies. Competencies are defined knowledge and behaviors that the DoD wants to see exhibited by its FM workforce. In other words, to get the job done, the DoD FM workforce has to know certain things and be able to act in certain ways.  The DoD FM Certification requires training on those needed competencies. What does this...

read more

Federal Audits: How Much Evidence is Enough?

Posted by on Aug 19, 2014 in Financial Management | 0 comments

How much evidence is enough? Is this a question answered by using “professional judgment?” Unfortunately there is no formula in the Yellow Book – or anywhere else for that matter — that answers these questions.  So … how do we know? The Yellow Book (para. 6.67) says: “Sufficiency is a measure of the quantity of evidence used for addressing the audit objectives and supporting findings and conclusions.”  O.K. then.  Quantity is the key.  The more evidence we have, the better the audit.  The more people will be convinced of the audit...

read more

Does It Make Any Difference?

Posted by on Aug 14, 2014 in Acquisition, Financial Management, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

Does It Make Any Difference?

From time to time it is important to take stock of why we invest our energy in the things that occupy us.   Birthdays, job changes, and retirements are points where we as individuals commonly reflect and ask “does what I do make any difference?” In early August my colleague, Cleve Pillifant, retired from Management Concepts.  He joins the cadre of senior “‘tweens” who work on occasion a few days or weeks here and there, ‘tween work habits compacted over a career and a complete leisure retirement.   Cleve proudly and irreverently (as is his...

read more

The Key to Effective Financial Management at DoD: A Well-Trained Workforce

Posted by on Aug 13, 2014 in Financial Management | 0 comments

In an era of constrained Federal budgets, the Department of Defense (DoD) faces increased scrutiny into how it spends and accounts for the large financial resources it utilizes to defend our nation. A major challenge for DoD has been achieving auditable financial statements. The DoD remains the sole cabinet level agency to have not received at least a qualified opinion on its financial statements from an independent outside auditor. Although it has a goal to achieve full audit readiness for all DoD financial statements by 2017, the Department...

read more

Levels, levels everywhere and not an ounce of clarity anywhere!

Posted by on Aug 4, 2014 in Financial Management, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

About once or twice a year, I find myself sitting in a meeting with clients and colleagues, and I suddenly realize that confusion has ensued without people realizing it. I specifically remember one meeting where, despite that fact that we were all training and learning experts in our own right — we began to talk past each other. The discussion was on “levels.”  A few of us had confused looks on our faces. The discussion continued as each person tried to explain and re-explain the points they were trying to make. After several painful...

read more

Having an “HMU” Instead of an Attack

Posted by on Jul 25, 2014 in Financial Management, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

A senior leader at a Federal agency I recently worked with was revered throughout the organization, known for his wisdom, excellent communication skills and approachability. When something went bad or wrong with anyone, he would sit down with the person and have an “HMU” conversation. Before explaining what an HMU is, it is important to remember how most conversations go in many organizations when something goes wrong. The conversation often goes badly, evokes negative emotions, defensiveness, hurt feelings, future avoidance and other damage....

read more

Instructional Games in Government and Industry

Posted by on Jul 23, 2014 in Financial Management, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

A growing trend in today’s business learning environments has been moving toward simultaneously teaching and experiencing important ideas through verbal, tactile, and surrogate methods.   In other words, we don’t just describe, display, and observe — we simulate.   Game-based business simulations provide a means for students to perform tasks, demonstrate skills, and also exhibit attitudes in order to create or experience effective approaches in dealing with real or potential situations. The concept and practice of simulations are not...

read more

What’s New with the USSGL

Posted by on Jul 10, 2014 in Financial Management | 0 comments

The Treasury Department released their annual update to the U.S. Standard General Ledger (USSGL) last Tuesday.  While most changes are fairly minor, it is interesting to see how the USSGL guidance is changing to support Governmentwide Treasury Account Symbol Adjusted Trial Balance System (GTAS). Beyond the six-digit general ledger account codes that were recently updated, the USSGL now includes an additional section for GTAS validations and edits.  The validations ensure the integrity of the USSGL data, while the edits ensure data is...

read more

Don’t Forget the Sammies This 4th of July!

Posted by on Jul 3, 2014 in Acquisition, Financial Management, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

Don’t Forget the Sammies This 4th of July!

I’m not referring to the “sammies” you may be planning for a July 4th picnic celebration, but you can get back to perusing tasty recipes for your holiday menu in just a minute. I’ll be brief. I’m talking about what are referred to as the “Oscars” of government service awards: The Service to America Medals awarded each year by the DC-based Partnership for Public Service. The Sammies recognize “outstanding Federal employees who are making high-impact contributions to the health, safety and welfare of countless Americans and others around the...

read more

Rock Your Next Federal Job Interview

Posted by on Jun 27, 2014 in Acquisition, Financial Management, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

You’ve completed the self-assessment, submitted your resume via USAjobs.gov, and have been selected for an interview. Now what?  Interviewing can be quite nerve-wracking in general, but can be even more so for a Federal job, which is quite different from interviewing with a private firm. Successful planning and preparing in advance will be the key to success… and hopefully an offer for employment. Below are some tips on preparing for a Federal job interview. Before the interview… Prepare Using the Job Announcement: You applied and tailored...

read more

Bad Auditude: Are Auditors Destined to Become Cynics?

Posted by on Jun 26, 2014 in Financial Management | 0 comments

Auditors: trained cynics or professional skeptics? I’ve heard spouses of longtime auditors accuse their mates of becoming trained cynics.  You know how it goes: An auditor walks in the front door at home after a long day of rooting out fraud, waste, and mismanagement and immediately comments on the fact that the living room easy chair is out of place.  Well, it is!  And it shouldn’t be!  Management (i.e., the auditor’s spouse) needs to put it in its proper place. Auditors who have been in the profession for a while should periodically take...

read more

4 Generation Workforce: Instructional Challenges for Human Resources & Management Leaders

Posted by on Jun 25, 2014 in Acquisition, Financial Management, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

“They’ve been called Generation Y. They’ve been called Echo Boomers. They may go by different names, but there’s no debate about their effect on business. They are the fastest growing segment of your employee population. They’ve been trained to use their heads more than their hands to solve problems.  It will take a new set of leadership skills to understand their perspective and motivate them to succeed.”  –  Donald D. Shandler, Ph.D., Assistant Vice President, Graduate and Adult Education, Marymount University, and author of...

read more

Pop Quiz: How Do You Evaluate Training?

Posted by on Jun 24, 2014 in Acquisition, Financial Management, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

Recently, I’ve encountered several instances where agencies want to make sure they get what they pay for when training their employees. One method that I’ve observed is giving students a test at the beginning and end of a class. At first glance, this makes sense: Let’s make sure the employees are learning something when we spend our scarce training dollars. To understand the limitations of the before and after test, let’s look at Laura, a GS-9 analyst with ambitions to move up to deputy program manager and eventually to program manager. Laura...

read more

Change in Contract Scope Requires Current Year Funds

Posted by on Jun 18, 2014 in Financial Management | 0 comments

As an appropriations law instructor, my students frequently ask me about contracts. Recently, I was asked was about a contract that has been extended. My student explained that his agency had processed two short-term extensions for this contract, the first of which only required additional labor. The second extension required both labor and travel. The student wanted to know if the remaining funds on the contract could be used from the first extension or if the agency would need to use current year funds because of the additional request for...

read more

The Top 5 Challenges of DoD’s Audit Readiness Program

Posted by on Jun 12, 2014 in Financial Management | 1 comment

Several years ago, the Department of Defense implemented a program called Financial Improvement and Audit Readiness (FIAR) in order to position the department to have auditable financial statements to to better support decisions regarding the allocation and use of resources. The FIAR program goals are: By September 30, 2014, the General Fund Statement of Budgetary Resources (SBR) should be audit ready By June 30, 2016, validate the existence (i.e., ensure that recorded assets exist) and completeness (i.e., managed/stored assets are recorded...

read more

Augmentation and Miscellaneous Receipts for Revolving Funds

Posted by on Jun 2, 2014 in Financial Management | 0 comments

If you work for a revolving fund, you may be wondering if the appropriations law augmentation principle as related to the miscellaneous receipts statute (31 USC 3302(b)) applies to revolving (i.e., working capital) funds. According to the GAO Red Book, revolving funds are able to keep receipts as long as the receipts are related to the necessary operation of the fund. If the receipt is not related to the operation of the fund, it must be deposited in the Treasury as miscellaneous receipts. For example, a revolving fund established to perform...

read more

Appearances in Audits Are Actually Everything

Posted by on May 29, 2014 in Financial Management | 0 comments

Appearances matter in conducting audits. The Yellow Book says appearance is an important factor in conducting audits; that is, “independence in appearance,” which goes along with independence of mind. These are the two main qualities an auditor must exhibit in order to meet the Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards (GAGAS) standard on independence. The focus on these two qualities in the 2011 revision of the Yellow Book represents a slight change from the 2007 version. The 2011 Yellow Book defines these two important aspects of the...

read more

Assuring Successful Adoption of Business Innovations

Posted by on May 27, 2014 in Acquisition, Financial Management, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 2 comments

It’s common practice for the government and commercial entities to periodically modify their organization’s reporting structure, business processes, and day-to-day procedures to adapt to the changing needs of the agency or company.  And … it’s human nature to be resistant or hesitant to the accepting the changes, or confused by the new ideas that result from those actions.   Senior leadership tends to introduce the “new ways of doing things” through policies, memos, all-hands meetings, and the all too frequent “word of mouth.”  Although these...

read more

Employee Performance: Do You See the Big Picture?

Posted by on May 27, 2014 in Acquisition, Financial Management, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

Linda, a supervisor of an eight-person analysis team, went home every night for a week frustrated that her team wasn’t getting the job done. She shared her frustrations with her husband over dinners, “Maybe this team just doesn’t have what it takes. Charles and Kelly don’t seem to understand some of the analyses we do. And, Jose and Pat just seem apathetic most of the time.” Linda’s husband asks, “Wait, didn’t you invest a lot in training those four last year? Remember how many dinners I ate alone because you were doing their work while they...

read more

3 Things to Know About Contract Termination Liability

Posted by on May 21, 2014 in Financial Management | 0 comments

One of my appropriations law students recently asked a great question about how to handle contract termination liability. This is one of those sticky subjects regarding the intersection of contract law and appropriations law, so I highly recommend always consulting your agency’s legal counsel and specific regulations. Nevertheless, there are a few things to know about contract terminations that will help you better understand the concept and when to ask questions about it: Termination, like a contract incentive, is considered a contingent...

read more

Making Progress Toward Audit Ready Financial Statements

Posted by on May 15, 2014 in Financial Management | 0 comments

As the Department of Defense nears the FY 2017 deadline for asserting audit ready financial statements, managing risks to meeting the requirements of the National Defense Authorization Acts becomes increasingly important. Today, DoD is making progress in implementing internal controls to manage financial reporting risks, but is doing very little to identify and manage program risks. Per the results of a GAO audit, published in their February 2013 report, DoD’s FIAR risk management activities are not comprehensive and do not fully align with...

read more

Use the Active Voice for More Impactful Writing

Posted by on May 8, 2014 in Acquisition, Financial Management, Grants & Assistance, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

We often lessen the impact of our writing by using the passive voice. In The Government Manager’s Guide to Plain Language, I offer some very practical guidance and examples that illustrate how government managers can add directness and impact to their communications, both with their staff and with the public. Give it a try with something you’ve written recently. See the difference? PREFER THE ACTIVE VOICE In an active sentence, the person or agency performing an action is the subject of the sentence. In a passive sentence, the person or item...

read more

Does the Bona Fide Needs (BFN) Rule Now Have Less Bite?

Posted by on May 2, 2014 in Financial Management | 0 comments

Some say one of the bedrock principles of federal appropriations law was eroded by a recent decision from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). May we now order several years’ worth of office supplies with a one-year appropriation if it saves money? Based on decision B-322455, dated August 16, 2013, the answer sure does seem to be yes, but it certainly did not used to be. Because of the Bona Fide Needs Rule, there was generally no authority to order more than one year’s worth of supplies with a one-year appropriation. If an agency...

read more

Top 3 Ways to Avoid Audit Report Draft Ping Pong Syndrome

Posted by on Apr 24, 2014 in Financial Management | 0 comments

We’ve all lived through it (or, should I say, survived it): numerous audit report rewrites bouncing back and forth through multiple layers of review.  For everyone involved in an audit, from auditors to managers to reviewers, this Ping Pong Syndrome can be a real headache. Some amount of back and forth is inevitable, but a lot is definitely avoidable! Obviously, GAO’s Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards (the Yellow Book) must be followed in the audit work and report to ensure credibility of the audit organization and message. ...

read more

Assess Before You Diagnose

Posted by on Apr 22, 2014 in Acquisition, Financial Management, Grants & Assistance, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

I opened my copy of Performance Improvement recently and was excited to read “An Ounce of Good Assessment is Worth A Pound of Analysis and A Ton of Cure” by Roger Kaufman. It is only natural for managers and executives to diagnose their organizations. They want quick answers. The sooner they can figure out what is causing a problem, the sooner they can focus on getting “real work” done. When I go to the doctor, I am the same way. I’ve already Googled my symptoms and think I know what’s wrong. I don’t want to spend time talking about the...

read more

When Purpose Trumps Procedure

Posted by on Apr 15, 2014 in Financial Management | 0 comments

Sometimes, even in matters of appropriations law, the reason for going outside of standard operating procedure can trump following it. While teaching a recent Appropriations Law Seminar, a student asked a very good question about a situation where the IT staff of the agency directed the procurement office to purchase equipment without going through traditional channels. The IT staff wanted to procure a data line that would enable hearing impaired employees to make video telephone calls. The agency is normally supposed to go through the...

read more

A Short Checklist for Determining Your Agency’s GTAS Preparedness

Posted by on Apr 9, 2014 in Financial Management | 0 comments

Brace yourself! The time to switch to the Government-wide Treasury Account Symbol Adjusted Trial Balance System (GTAS) is almost upon us! As Treasury states, “Effective the first reporting window of FY 2015, all federal agencies are required to have transitioned to GTAS.” We know you’ve heard the story: GTAS is now the primary means of reporting agency trial balance data, replacing the FACTS I, FACTS II, IFCS, and IRAS reporting systems. With GTAS as the single data collection system, the federal government will see more consistent and...

read more

Is ILT Dying?

Posted by on Apr 8, 2014 in Acquisition, Financial Management, Grants & Assistance, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

Yes, ILT (instructor-led training) is dying, but we need not mourn its loss. Instead, we should realize we are standing on the brink of something exhilarating: the reincarnation of instructor-led training as virtual instructor-led training (VILT). The traditional brick-and-mortar ILT classroom has been smoldering for a while now. As federal travel budgets shrink and training dollars dry up (although the future of training is looking up), organizations are seeking alternatives to fill their training needs. Organizations are continually looking...

read more

Tips for Government Managers to Overcome Writer’s Block

Posted by on Apr 3, 2014 in Acquisition, Financial Management, Grants & Assistance, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

Whether writing a business plan, memo, or report, one of the hardest tasks government managers face in writing is getting started. In my recent book, The Government Manager’s Guide to Plain Language, I offer some  tips to help you break through the writer’s block we all experience—and also to help you make an initial assessment of what you have written before passing it along for editing and review.   TIPS FOR WRITING DRAFTS To make the draft stage easier and more productive, consider the following steps: • Once you have a complete...

read more

Contract Negotiation: The Ambiguous Authority Tactic

Posted by on Feb 20, 2014 in Acquisition, Financial Management, Grants & Assistance, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management, Uncategorized | 0 comments

In The Government Manager’s Guide to Contract Negotiation, author LeGette McIntyre offers federal negotiators a host of tactics they can use to get a solid, fair deal for their agency. One of these tactics is the “ambiguous authority” tactic—which we’ve all been subjected to when we’ve bought a car! How do you employ the tactic to get the best deal for the government? Share some experiences with your colleagues and we’ll all be better prepared for the next negotiation!   THE AMBIGUOUS AUTHORITY TACTIC You can use the ambiguous authority...

read more

Go Ahead, Make My Year

Posted by on Jan 10, 2014 in Financial Management, Leadership, Project Management | 1 comment

There is a small, weekly column in the Washington Post titled Animal Watch that chronicles the various adventures of animals of all kinds – dogs, cats, raccoons, eagles and more. The Animal Control Department is often called. This column is very cleverly written and headlined. It always brings a chuckle in my household. And with the New Year underway, I decided to do something about it. What does this have to do with leadership and why should you care about this? In working with leaders, managers and supervisors, we always emphasize the...

read more

Make Peace with Change and Focus on Building Resilience

Posted by on Jan 3, 2014 in Financial Management, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

Management Concepts recently identified 5 Essential NEW Leadership Habits for Federal Leaders. The second item on that list is “Make peace with change and focus on building resilience.” It was not so very long ago that many people in organizations sought to minimize risk, preserve the status quo and even get by until retirement. That strategy worked, in a sense, so long as the going was good. Today, it is a very different story. Beset with change, disruption, technological and social transformation, and rising demands for results, practically...

read more

Play Dumb to Get What You Want: The Question Tactic in Negotiation

Posted by on Dec 27, 2013 in Acquisition, Financial Management, Grants & Assistance, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

Play Dumb to Get What You Want: The Question Tactic in Negotiation

Negotiation skills aren’t just for entrepreneurs on Shark Tank. Federal managers can also benefit from mastering these valuable skills. In The Government Manager’s Guide to Contract Negotiation, LeGette McIntyre offers some very specific tactics that could help any fed facing a tough negotiation. Here’s a great example from the book that McIntyre calls “The Question Tactic.” Try this in your next meeting and let us know your results. THE QUESTION TACTIC In any negotiation, knowledge is power. You increase your power relative to the other side...

read more

The Workplace Wisdom of Christopher Robin

Posted by on Dec 9, 2013 in Financial Management, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

A few weeks ago, my wife and I were finally getting around to cleaning out the coat closet when we stumbled on our kids’ baby books. As we leafed through the pages of memories, I ran across a snapshot of my son carrying a Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal.  I was reminded of how central Winnie, Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger and the rest of the inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Wood were for several years of our lives.  Thinking back on that time, I was reminded of one of my favorite quotes when Christopher Robin said to Pooh, “Promise me you’ll...

read more

Speak Up! Better Requirements Management at the Heart of Federal IT Project Success

Posted by on Nov 25, 2013 in Acquisition, Financial Management, Leadership, Project Management | 0 comments

In a recent article, Roger Waldron, president of the Coalition for Government Procurement, highlights the ongoing issue of government clearly defining what it needs in IT projects, and ensuring the contractor understands exactly what is needed.  Otherwise known as?  A better discussion on requirements – to avoid the Healthcare.gov or SBInets of the future. Particularly difficult are coming to agreements on the large-scale IT project requirements.  Due to the government acquisition process, more often than not the technology itself moves...

read more

Have You Reached a Negotiation Deadlock? Break Through with the Set-Aside Tactic.

Posted by on Jul 30, 2013 in Acquisition, Financial Management, Leadership | 1 comment

What if you’re representing your agency in the middle of a negotiation with a contractor and you reach a deadlock? What can you do to keep the negotiation moving forward—and to gain the competitive advantage? In his book, The Government Manager’s Guide to Contract Negotiation, author LeGette McIntyre offers the “set-aside” tactic as an effective way to keep things moving in your favor. Has this tactic ever worked for you? Is there a chance it could backfire? THE SET-ASIDE TACTIC Deadlocks happen in negotiations, and the set-aside tactic is...

read more

OMB Officials Discuss the Proposed Uniform Guidance

Posted by on Mar 20, 2013 in Financial Management, Grants & Assistance | 0 comments

OMB officials discussed the proposed “Super Circular” today at the monthly National Grant Management Association (NGMA) training luncheon held in Washington, D.C. The officials discussed some of the proposed changes that would affect grants management, with one official labeling the entire process Extreme Makeover: OMB Edition. The “Super Circular,” known formally as the Uniform Guidance: Cost Principles, Audit, and Administrative Requirements for Federal Awards, is a proposal to consolidate all current regulations for grants management into...

read more

Risk Tolerance

Posted by on Mar 13, 2013 in Financial Management, Project Management | 0 comments

What can I say about risk that hasn’t already been said? Let’s look at one tiny aspect, risk tolerance. Risk tolerance is an organization’s or individual’s willingness to operate in an uncertain environment. Individual Risk Tolerance Each of us has risk tolerance we display every day. Some personal individual risk tolerance examples are: Do you leave the house early for an appointment just in case there is unexpected traffic? Do you watch the weather channel to determine when to rise, or what route to take? Do you drive the speed limit? Do...

read more

The Sequester is Here

Posted by on Mar 1, 2013 in Acquisition, Financial Management, Grants & Assistance | 0 comments

Barring a last minute compromise, the  sequester will become a reality tonight. In preparation for the $85 billion in automatic spending cuts, OMB released a memo yesterday detailing the effect of the sequester on important government functions. Included in the memo is an explanation of how grant funding will be impacted. The excerpt from the memo about financial assistance is provided below. “Given the widespread use of grants, loans, and other Federal financial assistance to non-federal entities (e.g., State, local and tribal, non-profit...

read more