GCN INTERVIEW | Jackie Fletcher, the Mint's COINS flipper

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She has experience running
Mint systems projects over the last seven years.


Most recently, she headed the management team that is rolling out the Consolidated
Information System. COINS is the first enterprisewide system in government that integrates
financial, manufacturing and marketing management functions.


Fletcher started her career at the Board of Governors for the Federal Reserve
System. In 1988, she joined Treasury’s Bureau of Debt, where she created and ran the
Office Automation Branch. Later, she became deputy director of the Office of Management
Services.


In 1992, Fletcher took a job at the Justice Department. She returned to Treasury in
1995 as the Mint’s assistant director for automated information systems and became
the agency’s first CIO in October of last year.


She earned a bachelor’s degree in information management systems from the
University of Maryland at College Park in 1989.


GCN staff writer Jonathan Ewing interviewed Fletcher at her office in Washington.


What’s more













GCN: What is the
current status of the Consolidated Information System?


Fletcher: COINS has been successfully implemented at all Mint sites—Denver, San
Francisco, Philadelphia, West Point, N.Y., and Fort Knox, Ky.


But our Automatic Data Capture System—designed to read and validate bar coded
operations data on shop floor work orders and to provide automatic collection of employee,
labor and production reports for those operations—has not been fully implemented.


The Mint procured ADCS from Data Collection Systems Inc., a partner of PeopleSoft Inc.
of Pleasanton, Calif.


The system consists of custom bar code software, interfaced to the manufacturing and
finance modules in PeopleSoft 7.0, an Ethernet network and radio frequency fixed stations
and portable radio frequency bar code readers.


Because we encountered problems in systems tests of the ACDS software package, we
decided to put it on a different track to be implemented at a later date.


GCN: Will the Treasury
Communications System, currently being implemented throughout the Treasury Department,
affect COINS?


Fletcher: TCS supports our WAN, which is a critical part for COINS. All Mint sites
nationwide must use the WAN to access COINS.


All Mint sites are connected to headquarters processors, which house the main COINS
processes, and program and make them available to users via the WAN. The Mint has a public
frame relay WAN.


We selected frame relay because it is a network technology that is robust, flexible and
responsive to rapid changes in demand and, thus, can easily support the software and
resulting data that is created in an enterprise environment. This network is managed for
the Mint as part of TCS.


TCS contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. is responsible for processing
requirements—changes, for example—and providing 24-hour, seven-day monitoring
via a network operations center in McLean, Va.


If there is a problem, the TCS team performs diagnostic procedures and does any
necessary repair to Mint-owned equipment.


The team also works with the telecommunications carrier to resolve any carrier issues.


GCN: Why did you choose
PeopleSoft? What did the company offer in services and price? Did you feel that you were
going out on a limb?


FLETCHER: Implementing this kind of system at six facilities in one year is a huge
undertaking. It’s never been done in either the government or the private sector.


We needed to ensure we had the right partner. PeopleSoft proved to be the right
partner.


When we evaluated other companies, we did not believe that any of them had the
commitment to work as a true partner with us to the get job done.


In most implementations of this magnitude, there is the vendor, an implementation
partner and then the customer. In our situation, PeopleSoft Inc. was the implementer as
well as the vendor—no finger-pointing could occur if problems surfaced. That helped
make our implementation successful.


PeopleSoft is also a customer-focused company, which was very important to us.
PeopleSoft’s willingness to partner with the Mint and deliver the applications we
needed were instrumental in the decision process.


GCN: Are
your systems ready for 2000?


FLETCHER: All of our mission-critical systems are Y2K-compliant. COINS was the Y2K
solution for most of our legacy systems.


GCN: What are you doing
about creating an agencywide architecture that will mesh with the overarching
governmentwide systems architecture being promoted by the Chief Information Officers
Council?


FLETCHER: We have standardized on information technology throughout the Mint
nationwide. It is critical to the Mint for our systems to be interoperable. We will
continue to follow the architecture standards.


During the past several years, the Mint has worked to advance the fight for embracing
and implementing international standards for data communications. The earlier standard
used at the Mint was X.400 for e-mail and attachments, which has given way to TCP/IP and
the Internet.


The implementation of Microsoft Windows 95, Microsoft Office and Microsoft Outlook
allows full e-mail, calendaring, scheduling and document integration across all Mint
offices, as well as with vendors, other Treasury bureaus, Mint customers and other federal
agencies.


The Mint for years has been positioning its enterprise infrastructure to fully function
in a heterogeneous world.


The fact that the Mint is currently implementing a full-function Web commerce site on
the Internet to market our coin products is a good example.


In addition, another key interoperability issue is that the Mint’s enterprise
resource planning systems are Unix-based—we use both SunSoft Solaris and
Hewlett-Packard’s MPE/iX.


The Mint had to ensure that its current WAN infrastructure and heterogeneous clients
could communicate and work well together.


The critical COINS and TCS relationship is of great importance. Treasury’s TCS is
the provider of the Mint’s wide area frame relay network.


It is this network that provides the Mint access not only to its field sites around the
country, but also connectivity to the other federal agencies, as well as access to the
Web.


Over the last several years, the Mint has worked with Treasury to provide a solid
state-of-the-art networking environment as well as complying with all federal standards
and security.


GCN: COINS is
supposed to help the Mint control and reduce its production and inventory costs. How will
it do that?


FLETCHER: COINS was designed to enhance the Mint’s manufacturing, distribution and
financial management processes across the agency.


Prior to COINS, it took an enormous amount of time to compile management reports about
our operating and inventory costs because the information was spread across so many
stovepiped and manual systems.


The decision-making process was a challenge.


COINS automates and streamlines our manufacturing and distribution processes, enabling
us to deliver quality products and services to our customers more efficiently.


GCN: Why is cost
accountability such an important issue for the Mint?


FLETCHER: We are a unique bureau within the federal government; we actually manufacture
products.


The Mint has grown to a Fortune 500-sized manufacturing and international marketing
enterprise, with more than $1 billion in annual revenues and 2,200 employees. We are no
longer an appropriated bureau, and we have a waiver from the Federal Acquisition
Regulation. 


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