Funds slashed for DOD joint accounting system

Funds slashed for DOD joint accounting system

House committee cites development problems

By Bill Murray

GCN Staff

Almost as soon as the House Appropriations Committee slashed funding for the Defense Department's joint accounting system in the fiscal 2001 budget, a blanket of silence fell over major Capitol Hill and DOD personnel involved in the system's deployment.

For fiscal 2001, the committee members cut $41 million in the working capital fund for the Defense Joint Accounting System.

The two-paragraph section about DJAS in the committee's bill report followed a recent report on the system, as well as General Accounting Office and DOD inspector general audits this year, that sharply criticized DOD's efforts on the government-developed DJAS software [GCN, May 22, Page 6].

'One of the concerns is Clinger-Cohen [Act] compliance,' said a committee staff member. 'There was no schedule [for rollout], costs were going up while benefits were going down. There was no analysis of alternatives done, no performance measures and no business process re-engineering.'

DJAS evolved from the Army Corps of Engineer's Financial Management System, which let Southwest Division officials in the Corps of Engineers produce auditable financial statements in fiscal 1997, said Eleanor Hill, then-DOD inspector general, in April 1998, when testifying before the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Management, Information and Technology.

After selecting it over a Defense Logistics Agency system, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service developed a version of the Corps of Engineers system and started working on its deployment several years ago. DOD officials wanted the system to be used across the services.

Earlier this year during testimony before the Government Reform subcommittee, Robert J. Lieberman, DOD's assistant IG for auditing, criticized the Air Force and Navy for developing and modernizing their own legacy accounting systems, while the Army was the only service that committed to fielding DJAS.

For the moment

'Right now, the Army has alternatives, but it's not just an Army system, it's owned by DFAS,' said Capt. Tom Artis, an Army headquarters spokesman. 'Until we have time to confer with them, once we get a chance to look at the conference report, we're not going to comment.'

In all, 399 Army locations, 13 DFAS locations, 18 DOD agencies and 34 Military Traffic Management Command sites planned to use DJAS, according to Input of Vienna, Va.

In its fiscal 2001 budget estimate, DFAS requested $41.5 million in funding for DJAS, with more than $190 million requested for the following three years.

Ed Braese, a DFAS spokesman, said the agency had no comment about the DJAS funding cut. Officials continue to talk with lawmakers to revive the system's funding.

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