Labor Department takes financial management to the clouds

Enterprisewide system is installed in 18 months for less that $10 million

Officials at the Labor Department decided two years ago that the best way to replace their 20-year old financial managent system was to install a pre-configured solution that could be integrated across more than 22 agencies and organizations.

The seeds of that decision have finally borne fruit with Labor moving to a cloud computing-based financial management system, said David Lucas, chief strategy officer of Global Computer Enterprises, the contractor on the project.

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Labor is using GCE’s financial management Shared Service Provider Appliance, which is based on Oracle Financials Release 12. As a result, the agency has retired its old, Cobol-based, mainframe system, Lucas said.

The GCE financial management solution is a pre-configured, pre-integrated system that provides a full range of services, including data migration and testing through security, change management and training, Lucas noted.

“You’re going to see a ton of these [deployments] over the next few years,” said David Linthicum, an author and independent consultant. There is a mandate from the federal government for agencies to start looking at implementing cloud computing, he said.

By starting with a pre-built solution, Labor was able to save considerable time, money and risk, as well as begin introducing change to users in all of its agencies simultaneously.

Working with Labor officials and the department's information technology team, GCE was able to get the new financial system up and running in 18 months for less than $10 million, Lucas said.

That price tag would have been significantly higher had the agency built a system from scratch, which would have included new hardware, software and the infrastructure to support a new system as well as ongoing maintenance costs, he stated.

Labor now doesn’t have to worry about hardware, software or software licensing, but it still owns its data, Lucas said, noting that there was no controversy about who would own the data hosted in their data center.

GCE complies with all of the mandatory government security regulations, including the National Institute of Standards and Technology's guidelines, Federal Information Security Management Act mandates and SAS-70, Lucas said.

Plus, GCE worked with Labor’s chief information, chief financial and chief security officers to mitigate risks, he noted. GCE has a seven year contract with the agency, he noted.

“This is basically a software-as-a-service deal, and software-as-a-service has been around for a long time,” Linthicum said.

“From a technological point of view it is not a huge leap. However, “from a trend point of view it is important,” he said. The more success stories that occur, the more other agencies are likely to start implementing solutions in the cloud, he stated.


About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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