Letter from the Chief Financial Officer
On behalf of the United States General Services Administration (GSA), I am pleased to provide the FY 2019 Agency Financial Report (AFR). The AFR represents the culmination of our financial management community’s efforts to accurately track and disclose GSA’s financial status, and to ensure that the agency continues to act as a good steward of public funds. I would like to sincerely thank all of GSA’s financial management personnel for their dedication, diligence, and excellent work in compiling this report, as well as staff from other offices who partnered with the Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO) to assure accountability and transparency in the execution of their fiduciary funds.
GSA’s mission is unique within the Federal Government, as GSA provides services directly to other agencies, resulting in a high volume of interagency financial transactions. On an annual basis, GSA processes nearly two million interagency transactions, totaling over $20 billion in Federal spending. This requires our financial offices to adopt a broader perspective—we need to optimize our internal operations and costs while also planning and executing critical Government-wide functions.
FY 2019 was a successful year for GSA OCFO on both fronts. Internally, OCFO developed an initiative to streamline workload in alignment with Cross Agency Priority Goal 6, Shifting From Low-Value to High-Value Work. The initiative led to the successful implementation of 53 projects creating nearly 100,000 hours of workload capacity across GSA. We redeployed the capacity created within OCFO to enhance our audit and compliance programs, improve our partner financial reporting, and augment our Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Program.
Externally, OCFO launched the Federal RPA Community of Practice (CoP) to accelerate RPA adoption across federal agencies. OCFO also actively supported Government-wide adoption of G-Invoicing standards, supported the optimizing of the Public Building Service (PBS) leasing and owned buildings portfolio, and financial analysis to improve FAS’ acquisition programs.
Audit and Compliance
In FY 2019, GSA’s independent auditors identified no material weaknesses or significant deficiencies in their annual financial audit. In FY 2018, GSA’s independent auditors identified no material weaknesses and two significant deficiencies. In FY 2019 GSA closed the FY 2018 significant deficiencies, however eight control deficiencies were issued.
During FY 2019, GSA followed our established procedures for remediation of audit and non-compliance issues. For each financial audit finding, GSA developed a Corrective Action Plan (CAP), which was assigned to a senior accountable official responsible for full implementation. As steps were completed and supporting documentation provided, the work was reviewed to ensure mitigation of the root cause.
The first FY 2018 significant deficiency closed in FY 2019 was related to monitoring financial reporting controls. GSA implemented a comprehensive evaluation of the financial statement review process, a detailed review of the amount accuracy, a reporting checklist to ensure reports were prepared in accordance with all applicable reporting requirements, and a formal review at the appropriate level of the OCFO as evidenced by their sign off. GSA relied on multiple reviews throughout the audit process to ensure its financial statements were prepared in accordance with all applicable Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requirements.
The second FY 2018 significant deficiency, weakness in enterprise access controls, required additional steps to be performed as part of fulfilling the agency’s requirements for periodically reviewing and recertifying user and administrator access. In response, GSA has enforced a policy for account recertifications and worked with certifiers to provide additional role-based validations in alignment with job responsibilities. Although the significant deficiency was closed, GSA will continue to work on the access controls in FY 2020 to address the four non-significant Information Technology deficiencies.
In addition to our work to strengthen the agency’s financial controls environment and key compliance mechanisms, OCFO also focused on driving value across the agency through the following critical initiatives:
1. Staff Engagement and Development
OCFO’s greatest asset in meeting the requirements of its complex mission is its dedicated, effective, and innovative workforce. Leadership within OCFO made it a top priority in FY 2019 to cultivate staff development and facilitate greater staff engagement. Top initiatives included increased communication from leadership on organizational priorities, direct staff and manager involvement in identifying value-add and efficiency opportunities, and leveraging RPA to reduce low satisfaction work. OCFO achieved an engagement score of 82 percent on the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, a 2 percent point increase over FY 2018, and a 16 percent point increase from FY 2015.
2. Workload Optimization Initiative
Originally launched in FY 2018, the OCFO Eliminate, Optimize, and Automate (EOA) initiative was intended to create additional capacity within GSA to meet expanding mission requirements, increased workload, and to transition staff from low to high-value work (in alignment with President’s Management Agenda (PMA) CAP Goal 6. In FY 2019, OCFO made significant strides in implementing 53 projects across the EOA focus areas (including 29 RPA automations as of September 30, many with GSA-wide operational impact). The total workload capacity generated through the effort totals almost 100,000 annualized hours.
GSA OCFO also led the rollout of the EOA initiative to other CXO organizations within GSA. The Deputy Administrator has set aggressive goals for all administrative offices to identify EOA projects totaling 250,000 annualized hours of workload capacity that can improve GSA-wide operations.
3. Robotics Process Automation Program
In FY 2019, GSA OCFO provided enterprise RPA development for partners across the agency, including the Public Buildings Service (PBS), the Office of Human Resource Management (OHRM), the Office of Mission Assurance (OMA), and the Office of Administrative Services (OAS). In conjunction with the EOA Initiative, our RPA Program in OCFO set an ambitious goal of implementing 25 automations in FY 2019 (up from 1 automation in FY 2018). OCFO surpassed that goal with 29 live automations, while also making significant strides in program management maturity including enhanced process assessment and improvement capabilities, innovative dashboarding and program reporting tools, and program outreach and opportunity identification.
OCFO is also leading the Federal RPA Community of Practice (CoP). The CoP includes over 600 Federal employee members from 40+ agencies across Government in pursuit of two critical goals 1) Mitigating common management, technology, and operational hurdles that might impede Federal RPA adoption; and 2) Sharing RPA best practices, lessons learned, and strategies for launching and/or evolving an RPA program.
The CoP is conducting events to share innovate RPA use cases among Federal RPA leaders, develop an RPA Playbook, examine technology standards, and begin the development of trainings for Federal employees. All of these activities are part of a broader strategy to accelerate the adoption of RPA Government-wide, and achieving the full potential of RPA to transform the way the Government does business.
4. Strategic and Performance Improvement
At GSA, the Chief Financial Officer plays a dual role as both the financial management leader and Performance Improvement Officer (PIO). Within the mandate provided by the Government Performance and Results Act Modernization Act, OCFO led a broad slate of enterprise strategy and performance initiatives including:
A. Enterprise Risk Management Initiative: Engaged with senior agency leaders to identify, assess, and manage cross-cutting agency risks. Through qualitative and quantitative analysis, including surveys and focus groups, a multidisciplinary team engaged employees in central office and across the regions to better understand the root causes of cross-functional risks. The findings and recommendations will be used by senior leadership in FY 2020 to partner to create targeted mitigation strategies to improve organizational performance as well as improve transparency and accountability.
B. CXO Transformation Study: Assessed the transformation activities of GSA CXOs during FY 2014-2017 (OCFO, OHRM, GSA IT, OMA, and OAS) to determine efficiencies gained, service delivery improvements, and control enhancements. The resulting report was delivered to OMB as a best practice case study for functional consolidation in the Federal Government.
C. Quarterly Performance Reviews: Developed a revised approach for regular data-driven performance reviews of GSA’s Services and Staff Offices. Key achievements included the development of a standardized dashboard to depict CXO performance improvement. These efforts informed the development of new Agency Priority Goals for FY 2020 and FY 2021 and allowed GSA to more effectively measure its achievement of strategic goals
D. Program Audits: Launched an enterprise-wide initiative in FY 2019 to improve program audit performance. Led by a senior executive audit team, this initiative: 1) increased executive accountability for audit resolution; 2) improved communication and coordination of audit and internal control activities across the enterprise, and with the Office of Inspector General; and, 3) positioned the agency to respond more swiftly to identify deficiencies, address cross-cutting challenges, and promptly resolve findings of audits and other reviews. This initiative was designed to enhance accountability and promote an effective internal control environment across GSA.
G-Invoicing is the identified Federal solution to improve the quality of intragovernmental transactions (IGT) (buy/sell data) in support of more accurate financial management by Federal trading partners. G-Invoicing will provide a common platform for brokering all IGT Buy/Sell activity, implementing Buy/Sell data standards, and providing transparent access to a common data repository of brokered transactions. Per the United States Department of Treasury (Treasury) Bureau of Fiscal Service, full G-Invoicing adoption is required by all Federal agencies by June 2021. GSA is a critical partner in this initiative because of the high volume of IGTs processed by the Agency.
GSA OCFO led efforts to assess IGTs in coordination with our various program managers and Federal partners to understand the impacts of G-Invoicing standards and to determine optimal solutions. The OCFO took the lead in developing GSA’s implementation plan to elevate risks and challenges. During FY 2019, we submitted GSA’s implementation plan to Treasury and hosted a multi-agency meeting to propose the workflow for monthly rent payments. GSA OCFO has been working closely with our partners and our internal business lines to fully prepare GSA for implementation of this important Government-wide initiative.
OCFO made significant progress in FY 2019 in advancing GSA’s culture of financial transparency, instilling operational excellence, and pursuing impactful automation initiatives. As a trusted partner with GSA’s Services and Staff Offices, OCFO effectively balanced the importance of facilitating a rigorous controls environment with the importance of providing innovative, responsive, and accurate advisory services to all organizations within GSA.
As we move into FY 2020, GSA OCFO will continue to lead the RPA Community of Practice across the Federal Government, support Treasury’s G-Invoicing initiative, and continuously refine our service offerings for GSA and Federal partners.
This is an exciting time for GSA OCFO, and I look forward to another year of significant progress. I appreciate the support I receive from staff and leadership as we work to perfect our operations and ensure GSA remains a good steward of public funds.