New stimulus tracking tools available

Microsoft earlier this week unveiled Stimulus360, while IT consulting firm Johnston McLamb applies its geospatial business intelligence expertise to stimulus tracking.

The list of companies offering software and services to help government agencies track and share information on economic stimulus programs continues to grow.

Microsoft earlier this week unveiled Stimulus360. Based on the company’s SharePoint collaboration software, Stimulus360 lets agencies track stimulus-funded projects through hosted or on-premises offerings.

Meanwhile, Johnston McLamb, a management and technology consulting firm, is applying its geospatial business intelligence expertise to help both federal and state agencies meet the still-evolving requirements of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

Within the last week Acumen Solutions, IBM and MicroStrategy have introduced technology to that will let agencies track, monitor and manage economic stimulus-funding projects.

Every level of government — federal, state and local, as well as educational organizations — is involved in implementing ARRA. As a result, Microsoft developed Stimulus360 to provide greater transparency and accountability across multiple jurisdictions, company officials said.

Agency project managers can track and manage projects through graphical dashboards, maps and analytics. In addition, all actions and events are automatically captured as workflow history to foster more informed responses by officials and establish greater accountability at every point in a stimulus program’s life cycle, Microsoft officials said.

Stimulus360 “is really a graphical dashboard, mapping and data visualization with business intelligence wrapped around,” said Teresa Carlson, Microsoft’s vice president for federal government.

Stimulus360 provides a centralized repository to store information, including legislative and regulatory links; necessary report templates and a news feed to help keep users informed on the latest stimulus-related developments, officials said.

Built-in performance metrics are based on official government guidance and requirements and can be customized to the needs of each organization. Stimulus360 geospatial features link data to mapping capabilities. This provides a visual view of project status. Analytics let users access information such as job creation by city or the impact of projects in rural areas.

The solution has an intuitive interface and integrates with familiar Microsoft Office applications.

Stimulus 360 has been available for about a month and so far about six state governments currently are using the product, Carlson said.

Johnston McLamb offers data visualization

Johnston McLamb’s core offerings include business intelligence and data mining, which can provide agencies with detailed reporting capabilities, company officials said.

Data visualization tools will allow agency web sites to display more charts, graphs and interactive features to let citizens more easily visualize and understand data, officials said. For example, a graph could display the total appropriations, obligations and expenditures for an agency's Recovery Act funding by program source on a weekly basis. This gives users the ability to view spending over time.

Johnston McLamb’s data visualization experts will work with agencies to quickly implement a customized solution, officials said. If needed, this can even include reporting across agencies and programs. These visualization services can also be used by advocacy organizations to look at a specific program or cause.

“While the requirements of the Act are still evolving, federal agencies must comply immediately,” said Wendy Henry, vice president and chief operating officer of Johnston McLamb.

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