BLM taps instant info

Having key management data made widely available almost as soon as it is

generated can take some getting used to.

That's what they've learned at the Bureau of Land Management, where

a three-year project known as the Management Information System allows top

agency executives to tap into data from branch offices.

Information on transactions is available almost immediately through

MIS. And MIS comes with an online analysis tool, called Brio Insight, that

makes it possible to generate 10 different types of reports as well as to

run ad hoc queries.

"Theoretically, if you have an expenditure on Wednesday, you should

be able to see the results on Thursday," said Peter Ertman, MIS project

manager at BLM, speaking Monday at the Government CIO Summit in Savannah,

Ga.

With MIS has come some better accountability. Good as that sounds, it

has required a cultural shift in the field offices, Ertman said.

BLM traditionally has been decentralized, giving its field offices responsibility

for day-to-day operations. The sense of independence was reinforced because

key management systems were not integrated, making oversight difficult.

It often took 45 days or more to compile data from the various systems and

ship it to headquarters, Ertman said.

For example, the fiscal year ends Sept. 30, but it would be mid-November

before final reports were ready, at which point the information was already

old. But not anymore. With MIS, "on September 30, the deputy director calls

up state directors and goes through [the management data] line by line,"

said Ertman.

And MIS, in addition to being available to BLM headquarters, is available

to all 10,000 agency employees on the agency's intranet. That has required

another cultural shift. "There was always an unwritten rule that no one

state knew how another state was spending money," he said.

MIS, launched in response to the Government Performance and Results

Act of 1996, provides a single point of access to information stored in

finance, budget, procurement and other business systems.

By integrating these information sources, BLM officials hope to improve

their ability to measure the performance of key programs against established

goals, as required by GPRA.

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