Pa. opens ERP software statewide

Pennsylvania is making it easier for its city and county governments to use the same e-government software that its state agencies use.

Through the Keystone e-Government Initiative, state officials are working with IT consulting firm Cedar and financial solutions company ICap Inc. to provide city and county agencies with SAP AG's enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform. The company's mySAP.com platform enables agencies to automate core functions such as finances, human resources and payroll.

Municipalities will be able to take advantage of the state's discounted, bulk rate for the software. The product is available to municipalities through the state's pre-approved vendor list.

State officials hope the program will help them get to the point where all state agencies use the same ERP platform, as outlined in Pennsylvania's 1999 Imagine PA (www.imaginepa.state.pa.us/enterprise/site) initiative. Having all agencies running on one ERP system would facilitate interagency communication and minimize errors that occur when data is converted between systems, officials say.

"It's kind of reinventing government operations," said Charles Gerhards, deputy secretary for the Pennsylvania Office for Information Technology. "The point of this was to address the great difficulty agencies were having acquiring IT capabilities. We were investing an incredible amount of time, effort and money toward the [request for proposals] process. So we sat down and brainstormed what would be an optimal process.

"The agencies love [the initiative] because they can get what they need to get done much quicker. The vendors love it because they don't have to undertake the whole process of the RFP. It has revolutionized our ability to acquire IT services," Gerhards said.

Several counties have already expressed interest in the initiative, but the company plans to really get the word out at an upcoming statewide meeting of county commissioners in August.

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