GAO prods DOD to fine-tune financial consolidation plan

The General Accounting Office thinks the Defense Department's road map on how it will consolidate 2,300 disparate business and financial systems and build an enterprise architecture needs better directions.

In a report released yesterday, GAO said the Business Enterprise Architecture is difficult to navigate and is missing key elements.

DOD issued the architecture in late April to comply with the National Defense Fiscal 2003 Authorization Act, which required the department to develop a financial enterprise architecture by May 1. The department also had to draft a transition plan for implementing the architecture.

To meet the requirement, DOD would work with IBM Corp. under a $100 million blanket purchasing agreement. As part of that work, IBM and DOD identified which current systems would be phased out and which would become part of the new environment.

But GAO said DOD had woefully underestimated its cost to run financial systems. The audit agency said DOD will spend $18 billion this year to operate, maintain and modernize its accounting, acquisition, logistics and personnel systems.

Defense officials said the figure was $5 billion.

'DOD does not yet have a meaningful and reliable basis for managing the disposition of its existing inventory of about 2,300 systems or for sequencing the introduction of modernized business operations and supporting systems,' said the report (click for PDF), Business Systems Modernization: Summary of GAO's Assessment of the Defense Department's Initial Business Enterprise Architecture.

DOD officials expressed pride in the progress the department has made so far but acknowledged that much work still must be done.

'DOD has expended tremendous effort and made important progress and the DOD's initial version of the Business Enterprise Architecture provides a foundation from which to build and ultimately produce a well-defined business enterprise architecture,' Defense comptroller Dov S. Zakheim said.

The next phase will be moving from the as-is environment to the consolidated systems environment outlined in the architecture, Zakheim said.

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