Editor's note: The following selection is repeated - verbatim - from an ongoing "Ask the Administrator" dialog with Mike Griffin, located on InsideNASA, and can be viewed by anyone at NASA:
Question(s): OCFO has initiated (probably in response to agency financial audits) a series of internal controls designed to provide oversight on routine financial functions. I realize that OMB requires agencies to ensure that effective internal controls are in place and functional; it just seems to me that no one is concerned about the cost of some of the controls implemented.
As an example, I'm being asked (on a weekly basis) to provide a series of funds distribution printouts from the agency financial system (SAP). This is done during a face to face meeting with an OCFO rep and typically takes 30 minutes to complete. Because there are two of us, that means that each of these meetings is costing one hour of HQ time. When that is multiplied by the number of programs and projects that are distributing funds, it's a hefty pricetag. At a time when HQ personnel are being asked to cut out unnecessary workload, this goes against the grain. Is there a forum where the rank and file may challenge From:Chris Hart,Headquarters
Response (on 31-Jan-2007): A. (By Deputy Chief Financial Officer Terry Bowie)Your question has two parts. The first regards the cost of effective controls and the second addresses a more specific routine related to your processes. As there is not enough information to address the second part, please allow me to focus on the former issue.The benefit of effective internal controls is not measured solely in dollars. By exercising our fiduciary responsibility responsibly, we gain the trust and confidence of the American people and their elected officials who provide our funding. NASA needs to be respected for strong financial as well as scientific management. We should not look at having internal controls as a requirement of OMB or the auditors, but as a way of doing business which ensures we reasonably account for every dollar through our internal controls processes. Through established ways to prevent or safe guard against waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement in our every day processes, we will become a stronger and more effective agency.