New information system promises lots of change for the Mint

The Mint
brought employees from all its offices to Washington to participate on the COINS team.


The Mint this fall fulfilled a promise to its employees when it went live with an
enterprise resource planning system.


The Mint unveiled its new Consolidated Information System, or COINS, at a
ribbon-cutting ceremony in Washington. Mint officials tout COINS as the first
enterprisewide system in the federal government that integrates financial, manufacturing
and marketing management [GCN, June 15, Page 41].


The system came online on schedule, Oct. 1, at all six Mint facilities: Denver, Fort
Knox, Ky., Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington and West Point, N.Y. In the summer, the
Mint first deployed the system at headquarters and at the coin-stamping facility in
Philadelphia.


A final component that will support the agency’s human resources programs is
slated for implementation in another 12 to 18 months.


The Mint specifically set a separate, later rollout for that portion of the project,
agency officials said.


Jackie Fletcher will oversee the COINS system as the Mint’s new chief information
officer, Mint director Philip Diehl said. Formerly COINS’ technical project manager,
Fletcher is the first to bear the CIO title at the Mint.


Fletcher started her career at the Board of Governors for the Federal Reserve System.
She joined the Treasury Department’s Bureau of Debt in 1988 where she created and
managed the Office Automation Branch. After two years, she was promoted to deputy director
of the Office of Management Services.


In 1992, Fletcher moved to the Justice Department as assistant director for the Systems
Management Service. She joined the Mint in 1995 as assistant director for automated
information systems.


The Mint brought employees from all its offices to Washington to participate on the
COINS team. Those left behind in program offices had to do double duty to make up for the
missing people, Diehl said.


Diehl said the effort and personnel shortfalls that COINS required were worth it, even
though there were a few downsides to putting such a massive system in place in less than a
year.


“One of the ironies is that the COINS system at the beginning is an obstacle to
serving customers,” he said.


The Mint’s customer service representatives must learn a whole new system, which
will slow them down at first, he said. The quality of customer service at the Mint also
fell during the period people were removed from their regular jobs, Diehl acknowledged.
But COINS will ultimately be a huge asset, he said.


Over the system’s 10-year life, the Mint will spend $40 million, which is a lot of
money for the Mint, Diehl said. But the return on that investment is expected to fall
somewhere between $1.2 billion and $2.1 billion, he said.


The system will reduce the time the financial staff spends reconciling the Mint’s
accounts from 45 days to 24 hours, Diehl said.


COINS will also help the Mint control and reduce its production and inventory costs,
Fletcher said. In the past, the agency always overbought. “We wasted a lot of money
this way,” she said.


Some of the benefits may not even be known at this point, Diehl said. “The system
provides much more detailed data, and it may take us a while to discover how we can use
those capabilities fully,” he said.


The Mint is using PeopleSoft Inc. Enterprise Resource Planning applications for COINS.
Consultants from the Pleasanton, Calif., company helped Mint’s COINS team customize
and set interfaces for applications such as accounts receivables, billing and production
management.


An eight-processor Sun Microsystems Enterprise 6000 server running SunSoft Solaris 2.51
will host the PeopleSoft ERP applications and an Oracle7 7.3.3 database.


The Mint also will use the Maximo plant and equipment optimization package from Project
Software and Development Inc. of Bedford, Mass. Maximo will also run on the Sun server.


The PeopleSoft ERP applications will interface with two Mint systems: the Mail Order
and Cataloging System and Marketing and Customer Service Programs system.


Integrating these systems “will mean more efficient processing of customer orders,
more rapid responses to inquiries, better tracking of purchases and management of
inventories and reduced shipping costs,” Diehl said.


The Mint was so confident COINS would work once it was in place, it chose to disconnect
its other legacy systems as soon as COINS was available, Fletcher said.    

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