Oracle to Web-enable SBA work

The Small Business Administration is moving into the second phase of a five-year

technology modernization program with its purchase of Web-based financial

and human resources software applications.

The agency awarded a contract worth roughly $1.5 million to Oracle Corp.

to supply software that will enable SBA employees and customers to conduct

business via a Web browser.

That means agency accountants and personnel officials will be able to

process documents online, and customers will be able to transact business

with the agency via the Web, according to Kristine Marcy, SBA's chief operating

officer.

The enterprisewide solution will be a boon to SBA staff members, many

of whom work with labor-intensive spreadsheets.

"They're working harder and longer, and we wanted to move from that

to more analytical work that really lets us take a look at what the numbers

mean," she said. It also gives the workers some of the same capabilities

enjoyed by people doing the same work in the private sector, she said.

The modernization project is a three-phase, five-year strategic plan.

The first phase focuses on SBA's loan application and lender monitoring

systems, which supports a core SBA program — loans to small businesses.

That phase will cost up to $28 million.

The final phase will address the agency's business development and contracting

programs, including the 8(a) and small, disadvantaged business programs.

SBA officials are particularly interested in the second phase because

it directly affects the agency's internal financial operations.

"For four straight years, we were the only federal credit agency to

report on time and get a clean opinion" on agency financial statements,

Marcy said.

She expects that the new system will help the agency continue that pattern.

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