STATE AND LOCAL

Arkansas tracks stimulus funding with dashboard technology

The Arkansas Department of Education plans to track its spending of federal funding grants with dashboard technology from IBM.

As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Arkansas is scheduled to receive as much as $569.9 million in stimulus funding in the next six months. The state’s local education agencies will be given the money with the goal of improving public-school students’ academic performance.

The state will focus on services for low-income students and those with disabilities and on creating facilities that promote learning and expand the use of technology, IBM and Arkansas officials said.

Recipients of federal money are expected to report their use of that funding in October.

To meet those requirements, the Arkansas Department of Education will use IBM’s Economic Recovery Fund Tracking technology to monitor and analyze the effectiveness of its programs.

“Advances in financial management technology can play a crucial role in helping governmental organizations manage spending in real time,” said Gerry Mooney, IBM’s general manager for global government and education.

The company’s Web-based dashboard technology combines business intelligence and performance management capabilities. For example, if an education project has reached 56 percent completion but the managing agency has already spent 66 percent of the economic recovery funds, the system will immediately alert program managers.

Agency program managers also have access to financial management experts with government experience to help them monitor funding, track job creation and analyze the overall success of the programs.

IBM officials said the technology solution is based on secure, open software that integrates spending information to:

  • Monitor and measure the receipt and disbursement of money for a complete view of all funding.
  • Track the progress and results of each aspect of a program — such as job creation and retention — against money spent on specific initiatives such as education, health care, transportation and social services.
  • Analyze how multiple complex programs are performing against its goals and in comparison to other agencies and states.
  • Increase transparency and accountability by generating detailed reports that comply with Office of Management and Budget guidelines and show lawmakers and citizens how funds were invested, who is responsible for the invested funds, what programs have been funded, and the results to date.

Arkansas officials have established a Web site to track spending and results, and they plan to incorporate the information into a reporting system that is accessible and easy to understand, IBM officials said.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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