Letter from the Chief Financial Officer
On behalf of the United States General Services Administration (GSA), I am pleased to provide the fiscal year 2016 Agency Financial Report (AFR). The AFR is a culmination of our financial management community’s year-round 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 sincerely thank all GSA financial personnel for their dedication, diligence, and excellent work throughout the year.
In GSA’s complex and changing environment, an active and empowered Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO) is critical in achieving effective oversight of financial expenditures and ongoing improvements in mission critical services. During FY 2016, OCFO continued to implement organizational and procedural changes aimed at managing this important balance. OCFO supports our customers in achieving their respective missions and serves as a fiscal guardian of public funds.
To further enhance operational performance and efficiencies, the OCFO implemented an aggressive transformation in FY 2016 while continuing to reduce operating costs. Our approach to building a high-performing finance organization focused on three core elements: Organizational Structure and Management; Process Alignment and Improvement; and Operational Excellence. I am proud to report that significant progress has been made, resulting in substantial improvements across all three focus areas.
OCFO’s key achievements for FY 2016 include:
- Provided leadership in strengthening GSA financial controls and processes, achieving our second consecutive year without a material weakness and reducing significant control deficiencies. In addition to improved financial controls performance, this is the 9th consecutive year of an unmodified audit opinion.
- Executed the second year of OCFO’s transformation into a high performing organization by improving our operational metrics, outperforming 94 percent of our Service Level Agreement targets and increasing employee satisfaction, all while reducing OCFO costs by an additional 5 percent.
- Reorganized over 300 staff members in the Office of Regional Financial Services, streamlining operations to increase quality, performance, control, and efficiency.
- Refined our partnership with GSA’s Financial Management Line of Business (FMLOB) shared services provider, the United States Department of Agriculture, to provide effective financial transaction services to GSA while actively supporting the Federal Government’s initiative to expand shared services.
- Launched a broad Communities of Practice (COP) initiative to identify process improvement and standardization opportunities in regional finance, beginning implementation of nationwide process standards, and integrating staff from GSA CFO, GSA business lines, and USDA.
Organizational Structure and Management
OCFO took aggressive actions in refining its organizational structure, enhancing employee engagement, realigning regional financial support services and divesting activities outside our core mission.
- OCFO instituted a cross-functional team comprised of 30 staff members to identify opportunities to improve staff engagement. The team was very active in FY 2016, designing, improving, and implementing multiple staff engagement initiatives including staff recognition programs, informational events, and online resources. In FY 2016, OCFO achieved the highest employee satisfaction scores since the consolidation of regional financial services in FY 2012, yielding results 6.2 percentage points higher than the government average.
- During FY 2016, OCFO collaborated with leadership in the Public Buildings Service (PBS) to design a reorganization strategy for regional financial services. The reorganization effort was launched in February 2016 by consolidating staff into a new zonal model that streamlines regional financial services, allows for increased process standardization and improvement, and enhances functional specialization of staff. The new structure also enables more efficient and consistent service delivery to our customers and mitigates the collective action problem associated with managing 11 different regions and processes. As part of the reorganization, a new division in each zone – the Financial Management Division - was established and charged with promoting consistent and robust oversight of internal controls, increased audit response and support, and collaboration with the Office of Financial Management, which is tasked with enterprise-level management of the audit response, internal controls, and financial reporting.
- GSA divested its Childcare Subsidy Programs during FY 2016, allowing OCFO to increase its focus on activities more aligned with its core mission and functions. OCFO mobilized additional resources, implemented new processing software, and re-engineered our processes to eliminate a significant backlog in the Army program and reduce application processing times. OCFO worked with Army to move their program to a private vendor, completing the transition in October 2016. We also transitioned Non-Army Childcare Subsidy programs to another Federal agency
Process Alignment and Improvement
OCFO improved financial controls and performance by actively addressing audit findings, eliminating manual processes and upgrading technology.
- The Office of Financial Management achieved significant improvement in the FY 2015 Financial Statement Audit by actively managing the elimination of a prior year material weakness and reducing the number of significant deficiencies. To ensure similar results for the FY 2016 audit, the Office of Financial Management has continued to increase its collaboration with the Management Control Oversight Council, which includes a dedicated team of senior leaders across GSA charged with oversight of management controls and corrective actions.
- OCFO collaborated closely with PBS and GSA IT to implement an interface to link PBS’s new acquisition system with GSA’s financial system of record, Pegasys. This effort helps GSA eliminate the manual input of thousands of financial documents and reduces the risk of errors in financial data. OCFO will continue to facilitate GSA’s efforts to refine any data entry issues associated with the new interface, and to ensure financial statements and data are accurate.
- Another focus area for OCFO in FY 2016 was the enhancement and automation of financial data reporting and management. OCFO’s work on the Billing and Accounts Receivable (BAAR) initiative enabled GSA to retire the legacy National Electronic Accounting and Reporting system which had been operational for nearly 40 years. The implementation of BAAR establishes one consolidated billing system that streamlines the billing process, supports paperless billing, and incorporates one consistent format for enterprise-wide billing.
OCFO advanced operational excellence by increasing collaboration through communities of practice, aligning performance metrics with financial and program operations, and measuring outcomes. These efforts reflect our movement toward building a high-performing OCFO and are reflected in our strategic goals and objectives.
- OCFO established communities of practice to identify opportunities to standardize processes, increase staff engagement, and share functional knowledge related to OCFO’s core business functions. The initiative was kicked off during FY 2016 and will be fully implemented in FY 2017, with the goal of utilizing over 300 staff members to find ways to continually improve our financial processes and controls.
- OCFO completed the FY 2016-2020 OCFO Strategic Plan after an assessment and review of the organization’s key functions and operating priorities. The plan establishes new mission, vision, and value statements as well as strategic goals, objectives, and initiatives to establish our strategy for building a high performing CFO organization.
- OCFO updated its performance metrics and performance management processes to align with organizational changes, and to drive improvements in financial operations. In FY 2016, OCFO established service level agreements and monthly operational reviews to carefully monitor key operational indicators for processes that impact our customers. OCFO met 94 percent of our service level agreement metrics, with the majority conveying substantial improvement during the performance year.
- OCFO established 18 monthly operational metrics for our financial operations supporting PBS with 40 percent achieving maximum performance levels and 50 percent improving performance levels throughout the year.
- As a result of both broad scale transformation and increased focused on operational performance, OCFO’s internal customer satisfaction index increased 2.2 percentage points from FY 2015 to FY 2016.
Over the last two years we have made significant progress in developing a high performing culture of excellence and integrity by driving change and transformation. As a trusted partner with GSA’s service and staff offices, the leadership provided by the OCFO continues to strengthen GSA’s financial controls, performance and decision making.
FY 2017 will present OCFO with additional opportunities to refine our organizational structure, deliver planned improvements in our technology and business processes, and make key investments in our capabilities and staff. We will continue strengthening financial controls, realizing operating efficiencies and increasing employee satisfaction.
This is an exciting time for GSA OCFO and I look forward to another year of progress. I appreciate all the support I receive from staff as we work to improve our operations and ensure GSA remains a good steward of public funds.
Chief Financial Officer
November 08, 2016