Colorado system simplifies budgeting
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Apr 09, 2001
Colorado is rolling out a Web-based budget reporting system that promises
to shave time and effort from the budgeting process.
The public safety department's controller, Dan Frelund, said under the
new system, collecting and reporting information on a budget item would
take about a half hour — instead of two weeks. The system impressed officials
so much that it will be used statewide.
Frelund developed the system using Microsoft Corp. SQL Server 7.0 and
WebFocus, a Web-based reporting tool developed by Information Builders Inc.
He introduced it to his department a year ago for less than $100,000.
"We get nightly extracts from the state financial system and load it
into the SQL Server databases," he said. "Once loaded, managers can pull
their budgets, see what their budget is and what's been [spent]. And then
if they want to see detailed transactions...all they have to do is click
on the expenditure amount."
He said state patrol office staffs, which manage their own budgets,
used to have to wait six weeks after the close of an accounting period to
review their budgets. The new system allows managers to view timely information.
Under the old statewide accounting system, introduced 11 years ago,
Frelund said only those familiar with the mainframe system could access
information. If departments needed information, they had to print out reports,
re-enter the data in a separate database and then manipulate it.
"One of my goals is to demystify the whole financial arena and be able
to allow program managers — non-accountants — to be able to understand their
financials," he said.
Since the system is Web-based, hardly any training is required, he said.
Users enter their log-in name and password, then automatically see data
downloaded for their specific department. He said the system has helped
his staff members use their time more efficiently.
Planned upgrades include allowing departments to access and analyze
five years worth of data.