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Councilmember Jack Evans, Chairman, Committee on Finance and Revenue
Testimony on GAO Report, District of Columbia: Weaknesses in Financial Management System Implementation to the
City Council Committee of the Whole and Committee on Finance and Revenue
May 14, 2001




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Testimony of Chairman Jack Evans
Committee on Finance and Revenue

on the

Financial System Implementation

May 14, 2001

Good morning. My name is Jack Evans, Chairman of the Committee on Finance and Revenue. I call this meeting to order. This is a joint hearing with Chairperson Linda Cropp, Chairperson of the Committee of the Whole. We are meeting in the Council Chambers at 441 4th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. on Monday, May 14, 2001, at 9:30 a.m.

The purpose of today's meeting is to discuss the recent General Accounting Office (GAO) report entitled Weakness in Financial Management System Implementation. The report highlights some areas of concern with the District's progress in implementing several components of the overall financial management system and with delays in realizing the benefits of improved financial management information and reporting capabilities.

There are several important points I would like to cover. First, considerable concern has been raised about the politics of the GAO report. By this, I mean the timing of its release and the subject matter. Last Friday, I met at the GAO with the preparers of the report. I am satisfied there was no political motivation behind the timing of its issuance or its contents. The report was reportedly requested by Congressman Istook on September 9, 1999. This is the eighth in a series of reports issued by the GAO on the District's financial management system, the first being issued June 21, 1995. Work on this report was suspended in April 2000 because of the delay in issuing the 1999 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. Work resumed on November 14, 2000, with a planned issuance date of April 30, 2001.

Given this background, I am assured no sinister political motives exist at the GAO. That the Washington Post was given this report and framed the issue as it did in its May 4, 2001 article is troubling. Clearly, it seems there are those persons who wish to retain a control board-like structure here in the District of Columbia, and are looking for any means to justify that goal.

Today, we will explore why the finances of the City and our financial management system do not support this end.

Since becoming Chairman of the Committee on Finance and Revenue in January of 1999, I have repeatedly held hearings on the City's finances and on the progress of full implementation of our financial management system called the System of Accounting and Reporting (SOAR). There is a clear distinction to be made here. The District's finances have never been better. We continue to increase our revenue intake and produce surplus after surplus. The budget process this year was the best ever.

The SOAR system has had its difficulties. However, since August of last year, the SOAR Steering Committee--comprised of members of the executive and legislative branches, as well as representatives of the Control Board--has met regularly to provide oversight and action plans for the full implementation of the SOAR system. We are making progress.

Today, we will hear from Mayor, and former CFO, Anthony Williams, who was instrumental in the 1995 decision to purchase the SOAR system. We will also hear from Chief Financial Officer Dr. Natwar Gandhi and City Administrator John Koskinen. Finally, Nicholas Isbell and Burry Foss from the Control Board will testify.

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