The Department of State operates in approximately 260 locations in 172 countries. One hundred and eighty missions abroad submit business plans each year to the Bureau of Resource Management, while thousands of financial professionals around the globe allocate, obligate, disburse, and account for billions of dollars in annual appropriations. We deal in over 150 currencies and even more languages and cultures. In short, no corporation has the depth and variety of challenges that the men and women of the Department face daily as we work to create a more secure, democratic, and prosperous world, for the benefit of the American people and the international community.
Despite these many challenges, the Department pursues a commitment to integrity, transparency, and accountability that is the equal of any multi-national corporation and exceeds most. The quality of our past Performance and Accountability Reports has been recognized by the Association of Government Accountants (AGA) and the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.
Four years ago, the President of the United States challenged his administration to meet new rigorous standards for the issuance of financial statements. Promulgating these months after the close of the fiscal year was no longer acceptable. All agencies were required to do so just 45 days after the end of the fiscal year. Timeliness alone, however, was not enough. President Bush also set the goal for the elimination of all material weaknesses, full compliance with the Federal Managers' Financial Integrity Act (FMFIA) and Federal Financial Management Improvement Act (FFMIA), and attestation, by agency heads, to the integrity of the financial statements. Finally, the President established his five-point President's Management Agenda (PMA) that measured progress on these and other goals with a stop light grading system.
For the eighth year in a row, the Department has earned an unqualified opinion from our independent auditors. For the third year in a row, the Department has won the most prestigious award in federal financial and performance reporting — AGA's Certificate of Excellence in Accountability Reporting. For the second year in a row, the Department has no material weaknesses, and also for the second year, Secretary of State Powell has been able to issue an unqualified Statement of Assurance under FMFIA on both the Department's management controls and its financial systems. In addition, the Department has made enormous strides in meeting the goals of the PMA, particularly in budget and performance integration, management of human capital, and E-Government initiatives, recognized by "double green" on the OMB scorecard for each of these critical Presidential initiatives. Finally, the Department has met the accelerated reporting date of November 15, which is months earlier than previous years.
All of the above, as well as the performance results and information presented along with the financial statements, could not have been accomplished without the superb efforts of the the men and women of the Department. Whether laboring to bring good health and prosperity to a West African village, negotiating confidence-building measures in a regional conflict, or aiding American citizens as they seek a safe and honest environment in which to travel, work, or conduct business, the Department also provides to the American people the confidence that their government is investing their taxpayer dollars with total commitment to stewardship and fiduciary responsibility.
Christopher B. Burnham