Agency offloads financial systems to ASP

Agency offloads financial systems to ASP

Minerals Management Service tries a whole new approach as its minerals royalty program migrates to off-site, privately owned equipment


The Minerals Management Service has begun the final push to offload its financial programming to an applications service provider by the fall.

The Interior Department agency plans by October to begin using the off-site system and to rely on a service provider for support and upgrades, said Michael Del-Colle, chief of the agency's Procurement and Support Services Division in Herndon, Va.

Minerals royalties

Accenture, formerly Andersen Consulting of Chicago, is designing and implementing the system at a cost of $37 million. The service awarded the contract in September 1999 [GCN, Oct. 4, 1999, Page 6].

The service provider arrangement will host Minerals Revenue Management, one of the agency's two major financial programs. MRM collects minerals royalties and shares them with state governments and Native American tribes. Most operations are in Denver, but some employees work in the Washington area and three district offices.

Under the contract, Accenture will provide Financial Management for Education and Government software from PeopleSoft Inc. of Pleasanton, Calif. USinternetworking Inc. of Annapolis, Md., will host the system on its servers.

For many years, MRM'known until recently as the Royalty Management Program'has run custom financial software on an aging mainframe, Del-Colle said. The hardware's last upgrade was in 1988, although some components are at least six years older.

About a year and a half ago, the agency sought bids to replace its legacy financial system to keep pace with technological change.

Lots of programming

The old system requires lots of programming to implement any procedural change, but with commercial software 'you're tailoring the application as opposed to changing the source code,' Del-Colle said.

Workers will access the new system through PCs running Microsoft Windows 2000. About 250 workers will use it on a daily basis beginning this fall.

'It's a close timetable,' but the work is proceeding on schedule, Del-Colle said. He acknowledged that running off-the-shelf software on off-site, privately owned equipment required some new thinking on the part of the Interior agency's staff.

'This is a new approach meant to take advantage of having an ASP as part of your team,' he said.
During the five-year support period, Accenture will upgrade the application software as necessary, at a cost of just under $5 million per year, Del-Colle said. The Minerals Management Service will recompete the royalty systems contract after five years.

Michele Perry, vice president of marketing for USinternetworking, said her company is also working with three other agencies on similar projects.

Federal agencies haven't been as quick to adopt the applications service provider model as the private sector, but they are starting to catch up, Perry said.

The approach 'allows a government customer to focus on their business and let us worry about the systems,' Perry said.


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