Labor eases use of accounting systems

The Labor Department is launching a project this month to Web-enable its core accounting systems, which it expects will increase worker productivity and decrease training costs.

Labor is using a product from Jacada Ltd. to enhance the screen views on its Department of Labor Accounting and Related Systems program. The product, Jacada for Java, will transform the systems' character-intensive "green screen" into a more user-friendly graphical user interface accessible by any computer or wireless device with Web access.

The improved interface "makes it easier for the end user to use, and as a result it decreases error rates and improves productivity," said Aileen Bloom, director of federal market development for Jacada.

The improved screen navigation also will cut down on the amount of training necessary to learn how to operate the accounting system, said Andy Feinsot, Jacada's federal sales manager.

Jacada for Java analyzes host application screens and converts them into Java-based graphical interfaces with familiar browser features, such as pull-down menus, buttons and folders.

The product follows a set of some 750 rules stored in Jacada's KnowledgeBase technology to make its conversions. For example, in older applications, the F3 key is often used for exiting a program; the KnowledgeBase knows to produce an exit box on the GUI when it recognizes that function, Feinsot said.

Because Jacada for Java will not alter the accounting systems' existing code, the systems' unique functionality will remain in place, Feinsot said.

"It maintains the same code developed originally but presents it in a more friendly way," he said.

Feinsot said the product can be customized to further improve DOL's systems' ease of use. For example, green screens crammed with information can be divided into several, more manageable GUIs, he said.

Also, Bloom said, the Java code that Jacada produces is not proprietary, so the agency can refine it and apply it to other applications.

"We give you the Java, and you can extend that anyway you like," she said.

Labor awarded Jacada a contract in October. Agency and company officials held a meeting on Friday to schedule the implementation, Feinsot said.

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