Veterans Affairs:

Additional Details Are Needed in Key Planning Documents to Guide the New Financial and Logistics Initiative

GAO-08-1097: Published: Sep 22, 2008. Publicly Released: Sep 22, 2008.

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Through its Financial and Logistics Integrated Technology Enterprise (FLITE) initiative, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is developing a new system that is intended to fulfill the critical need for a modernized and integrated financial and asset management capability. FLITE is the successor to an earlier initiative that the department undertook--the Core Financial and Logistics System (CoreFLS)--which was discontinued in 2004. GAO was asked to determine (1) the department's overall plan for developing FLITE, (2) the status of its development efforts, (3) VA oversight of this initiative, and (4) whether lessons learned from the CoreFLS initiative have been considered and incorporated into the plan for developing FLITE. To achieve these objectives, GAO analyzed program documentation against relevant policies and best practices and interviewed program and project officials.

VA's FLITE initiative is intended to integrate and standardize the agency's financial and asset management processes across all offices of the department by 2014 at an estimated cost of $570 million. The department plans to follow a multiple-year, phased approach to implement the system, which is to consist of two components: the Strategic Asset Management component and the Integrated Financial Accounting System. While the department has created many planning documents that reflect key areas of effective project management planning, it has not fully addressed all key areas. For example, the work breakdown structure did not include specificity on all necessary project tasks. Until the department has added more specificity and details to its planning documents, it faces the risk that FLITE may not be effectively managed and could incur schedule slippages and cost increases that jeopardize meeting its intended goals. While initial planning and requirements development activities have been completed for FLITE, the program office has not yet begun actual system development. According to VA officials, as of May 2008, approximately $35 million had been spent on, among other things, the development of concept of operations documents; completion of a stakeholder analysis and communications needs assessment; and identification of business requirements and processes. However, there have been schedule delays (2 to 7 months) in the planned acquisition activities. VA has performed a number of essential oversight activities to guide the initiative in accordance with the department's information technology governance plan. Specifically, high-level managers perform oversight and engage program and project managers. In addition, the department recently performed an in-depth milestone review of planning documentation for one component of FLITE, and it is performing risk management activities to help ensure the initiative's successful execution and implementation. Taken together, these actions should help the department ensure that the program will be managed efficiently and effectively. VA also is considering lessons learned from CoreFLS to further minimize risks to the successful implementation of FLITE. Program officials developed an aggregated findings repository containing deficiencies identified in three independent reviews of CoreFLS. Program officials used the repository to document actions taken to address deficiencies and apply lessons learned. A total of 141 findings were identified, and program officials have begun addressing 123 findings. However, corrective actions have not been taken to address the remaining findings. It is essential that all findings identified in the reviews be fully addressed. Until the department addresses all of the findings, the likelihood is increased that the problems experienced with CoreFLS could recur and jeopardize the successful implementation of FLITE.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: To help guide the FLITE effort and ensure successful completion of the initiative, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Assistant Secretary for Management and the Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology to ensure additional specificity and details are added to certain key planning documents, such as the concept of operations and work breakdown structure.

    Agency Affected: Department of Veterans Affairs

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In comments on the report, VA concurred with the recommendation and took action to begin addressing the issues we identified. For example, VA provided an update to its Financial Logistics Integrated Technology Enterprise (FLITE) Concept of Operations (ConOps) and FLITE Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). Although the agency canceled the overall FLITE Program in July 2010, and terminated the remaining IT project under FLITE in October 2011, we consider the action taken to be responsive to our recommendation to add specificity to key planning documents.

    Recommendation: To help guide the FLITE effort and ensure successful completion of the initiative, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Assistant Secretary for Management and the Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology to address all findings in the CoreFLS findings repository to minimize risk to the successful implementation of FLITE.

    Agency Affected: Department of Veterans Affairs

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In comments on the report, VA concurred with the recommendation. Subsequently, the FLITE Program established a repository of lessons learned, which included lessons learned from the CoreFLS effort. VA officials provided GAO with a copy of the lessons learned register, which included documentation showing that all items in the repository had been addressed.

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