House panel seeks tighter DHS financial controls

The House Government Reform Committee today cleared a bill to tighten financial controls at the Homeland Security Department. The legislation would affect the department's program to build a new IT structure for its financial operations.

The DHS Financial Accountability Act, H.R. 4259, would apply the provisions of the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990 to the department. The 1990 law requires all cabinet-level departments to have a chief financial officer confirmed by the Senate, but DHS' top financial official now is appointed by the president without the Senate's advice and consent.

The bill also would require an audit of DHS internal accounting controls.

Rep. Todd Platts (R-Pa.), committee chairman Tom Davis (R-Va.) and other committee members introduced the bill yesterday. It passed the committee by voice vote. The bill passed today is a modified version of H.R. 2886, which passed the Government Reform and Select Homeland Security committees last year.

'The CFO Act is the cornerstone of federal financial management,' Platts said in a committee statement. He said the law must apply to DHS to ensure compliance with financial management reforms. The audit requirement would help uncover and correct problems with the department's business practices, Platts said.

Committee spokesman David Marin said 'the administration has been helpful in drafting the final version and is supportive.'

An Office of Management and Budget spokeswoman said today that her agency had not yet issued a statement of administration policy on the bill.

DHS is crafting its new financial management structure, involving reorganized business practices and computer systems to carry them out, under the Electronically Managing Enterprise Resources for Government Effectiveness and Efficiency, or Emerge2, program.

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