Sneak Preview: Audit Finds VA DATA Act Compliance Weaknesses

December 1, 2017 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

xsass_bookshot(The following was excerpted from a recent article in the Single Audit Information Service.) Officials with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) plan to develop and implement corrective actions by next summer to address internal control issues related to data quality under the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act) (Pub. L. 113-101), in response to recommendations in a recent audit commissioned by the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG).

The DATA Act requires federal agency OIGs to assess their agency’s compliance with financial reporting under the act. Three biennial reports are required, and the first reports were due Nov. 8. VA OIG contracted with the public accounting firm CliftonLarsonAllen LLP to conduct the audit.

The audit found that VA did not fully comply with the DATA Act due to weaknesses in VA’s existing financial management system, and weaknesses in internal controls related to source systems, data management and data reporting processes. “As a result, VA did not submit complete, timely, quality and accurate financial and award data to USAspending.gov for the second quarter of (federal) fiscal year (FY) 2017,” it added.

CliftonLarsonAllen explained that throughout FY 2017, VA has focused its efforts on modernizing its financial reporting systems by transitioning to a shared service provider, the Department of Agriculture. As a result, VA’s Office of Management focused resources on that transition rather than the remediation of legacy systems. VA’s financial systems are outdated, not fully integrated and cannot produce files that completely meet DATA Act requirements, according to the audit.

The audit found that VA’s submission of grant data to the Department of the Treasury’s Award Submission Portal was manually intensive as VA had no centralized grants management system. Grant data was gathered through spreadsheets from program offices for submission to the portal, and program offices did not have consistent methods for maintaining the underlying data. “No automated subsidiary system exists to support and link to VA’s financial system,” CliftonLarsonAllen stated. “Without an automated grants management system that properly interfaces with the financial system, VA will have an inherently more difficult time ensuring the reliability and accuracy of data submitted to the Award Submission Portal.”

(The full version of this story has now been made available to all for a limited time on Thompson’s Grants Compliance Expert site.)

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