Mass. overhauling financial system
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Oct 07, 2002
Massachusetts is overhauling its accounting and reporting system built
through a series of projects from the late 1980s to the early 1990s with
a Web-based makeover.
The state comptroller's office recently announced a $25.2 million deal
with American Management Systems Inc. to develop the new Massachusetts Management,
Accounting and Reporting System (MMARS). Fairfax, Va.-based AMS said it
would be one of the largest statewide Web-based financial systems in the
George Mitchell, AMS vice president, said there was a general lack of
appeal for the current mainframe "green screen" system (www.state.ma.us/osc/Homeview/Lesson/Mmars.htm), which has about 5,000 users
throughout the commonwealth.
"Their principal concern in terms of the technology was the age of it,
support, reliability and particularly the difficulty in costs associated
with making the change or the time it took," he said, adding that the comptroller's
office has been an AMS customer "on and off for more than 15 years."
Mitchell said the new Web-based system will enable payees, vendors and
others to use self-service applications, such as check the status of their
accounts or payments or registering with the commonwealth. "It's going to
be much more streamlined and also [users will] have access to information,"
The new system, which is slated for a May 2004 launch, also will provide
real-time interaction with the state portal (www.mass.gov),
allowing users to move more easily between the systems.
Mitchell said work will be done in partnership with the state comptroller's
office as well as the state's IT department in components such as training
and software design.
About two years ago, the comptroller's office (www.state.ma.us/osc/overview.htm) started planning for the initiative with
a task force composed of state agencies that wanted more functionality and
less maintenance in a new technology platform, Mitchell said. After more
research, the commonwealth decided it would do an upgrade with AMS, which
helped develop part of the current system.
After detailed requirements analysis on hardware and software implementation
and costs, the commonwealth added the project to a $300 million IT bond
issue that passed in the spring of 2001. In the period before the contract
was signed, the comptroller's office facilitated a business process improvement
study, identifying 15 areas where there were good opportunities for improving
practices, Mitchell said.