Advanced Data Tools Logo
spacer
Consulting Training Tech Info Successes User Groups Our Company spacer
   

"Decision makers can identify which offices or programs are accomplishing the best results at the lowest costs and use that information to improve their business practices."

-Terry Brokovich, BLM Project Manager

BLM's Financial Management Information (MIS) System

Overview

For the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Advanced DataTools built the IBM Informix and web-based financial Management Information System (MIS), which provides reports to over 7,000 program staff, financial analysts, and budget staff in 300 field offices. Staff are able to access their office’s current budget status, year-to-date workload, performance measure accomplishments, and what must be done to meet annual goals. Management reports indicate funds appropriated by Congress, funds collected from the public, all expenses to-date by project and program, and accomplishments for every dollar spent, by program.

MIS enables BLM to make informed management decisions, enhancing its programs and services to the public. It saves the agency more than $1.6 million per year in printing, distribution, and labor costs. As a result MIS, BLM is a model agency in implementing the Government Performance Reporting Act, Activity Based Accounting, and Cost Management, and was one of 7 finalists for the President’s 2002 Quality Award in November.

Background

BLM, an agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior, administers 262 million acres of America's public lands, located primarily in 12 western states. Its mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

Prior to using MIS, BLM decisions were based on paper reports that were produced monthly and mailed to each field and state office. Data was often six weeks old and reports were enormous, making specific data difficult to locate. Data had to be re-entered into local spreadsheets for analysis and status reporting. These local spreadsheets were then collected at year-end in a “massive exercise” to determine overall performance against goals and establish the next year’s goals and budget.

Since BLM employees (field offices, state offices, and Washington) had different data, it was very difficult to make decisions based on real, reliable, and shared information.

BLM sought to improve its business practices and public services by providing all staff with online access to timely business and management data, and to eliminate redundancies in data entry, procurement, finance, budget, and other business systems.

Solution

MIS includes a data warehouse, various transaction systems, and an enterprise reporting system. It currently supports approximately 7,000 active users across all regions. All of these users have access to more than 300 pre-summarized Brio reports and data sets including:

  • budget and fund status
  • program status
  • performance and workload measures status
  • collections
  • cost management reports

A core group of power users can also submit ad hoc queries to the data warehouse for more detailed analysis.

In addition, all 13,000 BLM employees can access the MIS web site (mis.blm.gov) to retrieve reports and conduct analysis. MIS is designed for non-technical users and requires virtually no training.

The field and headquarters staff now operate using the same, timely data. Financial and labor detail data, and summary tables, are updated nightly. The summary tables for programs at the field, state, and national levels satisfy 90% of the queries, which reserves processing cycles for detailed and more complex ad hoc queries. Over 300 Brio standard reports and predefined query models are scheduled, generated, and published to the web server as part of the nightly data load.

Best Practices

MIS employs best practices that can benefit not only government agencies, but any business:

  • Establish and communicate a vision of how information can be collected, delivered, and used.
  • Design the data warehouse and business intelligence front-end to be flexible and able to evolve.
  • Build the system and initial reports to meet immediate user needs and therefore accelerate user adoption.
  • Sequentially add modules and features, building on previous successes.
  • Construct reports and report access so every employee has access to and uses information for their individual job function.
  • Evolve the system to accommodate user requests and changing market conditions.

Decision-makers can now identify which offices or programs are accomplishing the best results at the lowest costs, and use that information to improve their business practices. BLM now provides a consistent level of service to the public throughout the agency. Implementing the system has not only helped BLM personnel to make informed decisions but has also helped them enhance processes across the bureau for better, more efficient customer service.

Results & Benefits

MIS has been continually enhanced since the first modules were implemented in 1998. The initial deployment included the Financial Management Information System (FMIS) data warehouse, which focused on Budget and Fund Status. Over time, the system has been enhanced with additional modules:

  • Performance and workload measures
  • Activity based accounting and managerial cost data
  • Customer satisfaction (surveys)
  • Collections and Billing System
  • Budget Planning System

Prior to the implementation of MIS, users had many methods of performing tasks and record-keeping was inconsistent. In designing MIS, BLM had to evaluate and standardize all these processes so the system would meet employees' needs at all levels of the organization from the field to headquarters.

BLM was innovative in providing all its employees open access to data. MIS is a system designed for regular use by “regular” employees. The idea that every single employee can improve performance by having access to critical organizational data is unusual today, and was even more so when that vision was established in 1997/1998.

A large, decentralized government agency, BLM established a vision to improve data delivery and met with resounding success. Decisions are now made with accurate, timely information. As a result, operational efficiency, resource utilization, and customer service were improved.

   
spacer
spacer