State Achieves Innovations in Financial Transparency
The comptroller of a large state and her team asked the question: “What can the CPA (certified public accountant) do to help government be more transparent and accountable to taxpayers?” The answer was to post expenditures so that taxpayers could see how their money was being spent to help hold government accountable.
In the “information proliferation era,” shareholders and constituents of organizations of all shapes and sizes are clamoring for more and more information about how decisions are made, where dollars are being spent and how organizations work. However, while most corporations and government agencies have the will to share information with the public, many have yet to find a way. All organizations face the unenviable task of managing huge volumes of data, and these records, more often than not, are stored in different ways in disparate systems scattered across dozens of business units and departments.
Converting mountains of data into actionable information for daily decision-making, and assisting customers, requires enormous effort. Often, data must be collected and reports compiled manually, and even when these processes are automated, organizations often find that their systems generate “multiple versions of the truth.” Plus, disseminating information for consumption poses additional privacy and security challenges: Enough checks and balances must be in place so that sensitive information is not accidentally given out.
Within state governments, many of these business problems fall within the purview of the Office of the State Comptroller — the agency that is the primary keeper of the data, not only on taxes, but also on revenue distribution, budgeting and expenditures. As the volume of data has increased dramatically over the last few years, state comptrollers have been faced with the challenge of not only satisfying their own operational needs but also of meeting regulatory or legislative requests and customers’ demands.
Typical challenges faced by the Office of the State Comptroller include:
The Office of the State Comptroller in this state sought to devise a solution that would address these four broad business issues. The office selected Deloitte to assist with this effort.
Deloitte delivered a Business Intelligence Solution to the state on an aggressive eight-month schedule. The project delivered in the following key areas: online expenditures database, dashboard for executive and division management, enforcement scoring and ranking, state financial reporting and online state demographics for economic development.
To meet the Office of the State Comptroller‘s broad business needs, Deloitte helped the office’s implementation team develop a tactical data warehouse that would serve as the technological cornerstone of the initiative. This warehouse was designed to initially contain a specified subset of the office’s information, while being scalable enough to accommodate the longer-term objective of encompassing all of the office’s data. It consisted of the following components:
Building upon this technological foundation, Deloitte helped the Office of the State Comptroller’s implementation team develop six business-intelligence solutions designed to give internal users and the public appropriate access to timely, relevant, and accurate information. In addition, a seventh deliverable was produced — a strategic, enterprise-wide information management (EIM) road map — designed to help the office build upon the foundation that was laid by the data warehouse and the first six solutions.
As a result of this project, the Comptroller’s Office was recently recognized by a third party government association with an award for having the “Best Technology Solution Serving the Public” within the state.
With this project, the Office of the State Comptroller demonstrated that the complexities of any enterprise are not insurmountable. Although there is a need to think about information management comprehensively — from the standpoints of organization, processes, data and systems — it is neither necessary nor feasible to address everything at once. The principles of information management may be enterprise principles, but they can be applied in a logical and sequential manner. The solution is a journey, not a single project or a “big bang” event.
This Office of the State Comptroller accomplished much by starting simply: the journey began by posting the departments’ own detailed expenditures online for the public to access via the Web. From there the project progressed to include new technology solutions and an invitation for other departmental entities to participate — all while leveraging existing technology solutions and information assets to stretch program dollars further. Thus far, these efforts have collectively resulted in efficiency savings, effectiveness improvements, and risk reduction — and perhaps most notably, more satisfied constituents.
Related Content: Overview: U.S. State Government
As used in this document, "Deloitte" means Deloitte Consulting LLP, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. Please see www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries.