Chairman Jack Evans
Committee on Finance and Revenue
COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
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
Today, we will explore why the
finances of the City and our financial management system do not support
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.