Efforts to modernize the legacy financial system of the Office of Personnel Management that manages combined assets of more than $1 trillion in government programs for retirement, health benefits and life insurance and provides more than 8 million sportsmen and retirees prematurely Behind and over budget help.
The agency’s trust fund modernization program, launched in fiscal year 2017, is meant to replace the Federal Financial System (FSS), the agency’s trust fund.
Although previous estimates projected the project for an October 2022 completion date, a second migration release is no longer expected to be made until October 2023, according to a new Congress-requested Government Accountability Office report. The cost estimate for the development and implementation of the project has also increased by $13.4 million from the 2020 estimate, taking the total to $71.9 million.
The current financial system is more than 20 years old, requires highly specialized staff and includes out-of-support software.
OPM selected a shared service provider in 2019 – the Treasury Department’s Bureau of Fiscal Services Administrative Resource Center (ARC). It aims to move OPM’s financial systems to the Treasury’s shared services platform, with ARC ultimately providing infrastructure, platform and software services while OPM manages transaction processing.
One problem of OPM is the lack of knowledge and documentation regarding legacy system and interface requirements. The report said that employees “most knowledgeable” about the system have left the program office. Resolving these documentation and integration issues added time and cost to the project, the report said.
Another factor for the delay is OPM resource constraints, which ARC has had to resolve, an ARC program manager told GAO.
Between fiscal years 2017 and 2021, the agency received approximately $45.8 million in funding for the program. OPM requested a further $8.8 million for fiscal year 2022 and estimated the program would require $6.1 million for modernization next year.
“Without reliable cost and schedule estimates, OPM’s management may be unable to make informed decisions and may not be able to mitigate the risk of additional cost escalation and schedule delays,” the report said.
One problem with the schedule was a mismatch between the program and its original vendor, who were using different versions of the same software, which corrupted the schedule files that had to be rebuilt.
The report identifies potential ongoing risks with the program through mid-2021, including other ongoing modernization efforts at OPM that could strain resources; lack of support from the CIO in the agency due to the lack of those same resources; And funding, if the OPM is to receive less funding than it is asked for.
OPM took issue with some of the GAO’s recommendations—including urging the human resources agency to increase cybersecurity staff on the program. OPM agreed with suggestions that an agreement with the Treasury should be updated to include cybersecurity requirements and use the GAO’s evaluation tool to schedule and measure performance.