Wyoming can afford to remake budget process

Wyoming has seen several transformations in the past few years, not the least of which is the approach to developing its biennial budget.

The state budget division used to run the budget on 25-year-old system written in Cobol and Focus, said Art Burgess, Wyoming's budget director.

Sneaky typos

Agencies' employees would fill out a workbook by hand and mail it back to the budget division, where it had to be entered into a mainframe. Not only was the task time-consuming, but errors sometimes crept into the system during the keying process, Burgess said.

But for this budget cycle, the state is using software that makes the process much simpler and easier, Burgess said'Canaveral iQ from New Moon Systems Inc. of San Jose, Calif.

State agencies can access the software remotely on the Web and enter their own budget data, he said. The information is stored in an Oracle database, and the paper workbooks are gone.

The old system had no word processing capabilities, and the only people who could access the data were the budget division's nine employees.

Under the new system, the data is more accurate, and the division's staff can spend its time reviewing budgets instead of keying data, Burgess said.

Unlike many states, Wyoming's budget is doing well, Burgess said.

'We run counter-cyclical to the rest of the country,' he said. When other states were living large on the dividends from technology stocks and dot-coms in the late 1990s, Wyoming was feeling a financial pinch. Now that the rest of the states are hoarding pennies and watching their budgets shrink, Wyoming is doing OK, Burgess said.

'This is the first time in about six years that state agencies received a full two years of funding,' Burgess said.

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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