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GCN : October 2015
28 GCN OCTOBER 2015 • GCN.COM The Army is well into a project it has called the “most significant transformation effort in history for a logistics information system.” The Global Combat Support System- Army (GCSS-Army) is designed to merge the work of 40,000 local databases that perform tactical, supply, property, maintenance and financial logistics func- tions. The new system will support nearly TRANSFORMING 40,000 DATABASES INTO ONE CONSOLIDATED LOGISTICS SYSTEM The Global Combat Support System-Army seeks to deliver “one version of the truth” for Army logistics data anytime, anywhere so we were not doing well,” LFA Direc- tor Jonathan Ball said. The office looked for ways to stream- line the routing and analysis of fiscal notes and sought to clear bottlenecks by opening up the office’s legislative work- flow to more collaboration. As a result, officials began developing the Fiscal Note Agency Response System last year. The custom system gathers projected expenses and revenue changes for each bill and stores the information online for fiscal analysts to review. The system uses Microsoft’s .NET framework to transmit new bills to a Ja- va-based web service. LFA analysts can view pending actions via a dashboard, and a countdown clock helps them prioritize their responses to requests. The dashboard also shows previous responses and lets analysts link bills to specific funding codes and other offices that would be affected by the proposed legislation. Fiscal analysts can commu- nicate with other budget analysts more freely, often resulting in faster and more creative analysis. “The basic inspiration came from looking at crowdsourcing and wikis,” Ball said. Early on, officials realized that most of the bottlenecks were simple sequenc- ing requirements. “We had supervisors reviewing notes and assigning them to analysts — that’s a bottleneck,” Ball said. “Then we’ve got the analysts reviewing and assigning to agencies — that’s another. So we started to ask: Why can’t we have all these things go- ing on at the same time?” The first step LFA developers took was to write scripts that would auto- matically assign bills to analysts and agencies, which cut down on the time spent waiting for analysts to make the assignment. Now officials are exploring the next steps for its dashboard, which include expanding the reach of its analytical features. One area of focus is forecast- ing agencies’ ability to fund legisla- tion and checking potential alternate sources of funding. The office has also discussed ways the financial data it gathers might be made available to the public via an electronic platform. “This is the public’s data after all,” Ball said. “It would be interesting to have civic developers cre- ate something new we haven’t thought of yet.” Overall, the project has significantly improved the state’s grasp on its finan- cial posture, Ball said. “I think the quality of our analysis is better, and we have more time to think about it and shoot ideas back and forth,” he said, adding that LFA’s on- time performance has improved from 60 percent to 98 percent. “A lot of it has to do with the fact that we’re not spending time organizing paper,” he said. “We were spending so much time organizing this stuff before and not enough time analyzing it.” — Paul McCloskey 1015gcn_020-038.indd 28 10/5/15 10:40 AM
January and February 2016