Arkansas nears IT overhaul launch
- By Dibya Sarkar
- May 08, 2001
Nearly two years after it began planning an overhaul of its purchasing,
finance and human resources information system, Arkansas state government
is poised to go live with the project July 2.
More than 3,000 state workers are being trained in the browser-based
Arkansas Administrative Statewide Information System
(AASIS) that officials say is one of the largest such information technology
projects in state government history.
The $30 million statewide system, developed in conjunction with SAP
America Inc., is expected to streamline administrative functions, eliminate
duplicate data, automate manual functions and provide greater accountability.
According to Mike Kemp, spokesman for the state finance and administration
department, expected benefits include:
* A reduction in the number of participating agencies' bank accounts,
from 700 to 65.
* Fewer steps from requisition of a service to its payment, from 42
* One federal employment identification number for the state instead
of the current 200.
* Practically instantaneous and round-the-clock access to information
and better reporting capabilities, a process that currently takes up to
The state, which has more than 24,000 workers, conducted a successful
test run of the system and will conduct another two, Kemp said. If something
goes wrong, the state has contingency plans to pay workers.
Of the 200 or so state agencies, including state colleges and universities,
about 150 are participating in AASIS. The remainder will use the system's
reporting capabilities, said Ron Hopper, AASIS project manager. Over the
next two years, the system will be expanded to include training and events,
recruitment, performance-based budgeting and advanced procurement programs.
"We're just scratching the surface," he said. "It's a humongous process
to get this rolled out."
Planning for the system also has changed the way the government operates.
Hopper said the government purposely included representatives from various
state agencies to participate in the development even before a request for
proposals was issued in late 1999. Business processes were examined step
by step and then improved upon, he said.
The new system might be daunting to state workers at first, but most
have been supportive and eager to learn the system's terminology and applications.
It'll become as valuable to them as when they switched from typewriters
to computer terminals, he said.
"Two years from now they'll want to shoot you if you want to take the
system away from them," Hopper said.