Wyoming School Facilities Commission Case Study
The AiM of Government Transparency
The Wyoming School Facilities Commission (SFC) is responsible for prioritizing and funding capital construction and major maintenance projects for all K-12 facilities in 48 school districts in a 400 x 400 mile area. Since 2002 the SFC has been appropriated $1.4 billion in capital funding and $365 million in major maintenance funding.
Prior to implementing a web-based Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS), the SFC managed their facilities management and capital project funds in a variety of spreadsheets and nonintegrated databases. This system of accounting made reporting a difficult and time-consuming task. There was just no structure in place to manage funds effectively and, quite frankly, they did not even know how many projects were being funded. Controls over capital project monies did not exist and there was very little documentation on SFC business processes. After extensive analysis, the SFC concluded that out of 1,100 projects, 750 of those projects were overspent.
It was obvious that this system was ineffective and a new solution was required in order to manage funds and report facilities management and capital project financials to the state legislature in greater detail.
The SFC began looking at other Wyoming state agencies to see how they managed their assets. At that time, the one entity that stood out was the University of Wyoming, which uses AssetWorks IWMS software to manage its facilities. After an extensive review of available solutions, the SFC selected AiM™ by AssetWorks. The AiM solution would provide the accountability, internal controls, reporting, transparency and enforcement of business processes that the SFC needed to serve the citizens of Wyoming.
During the implementation process, the SFC worked closely with AssetWorks to chart the course for SFC’s new system. AssetWorks employs a proven, industry-leading implementation methodology that is a collaborative effort between AssetWorks and the client. This methodology consists of six documented and well-defined steps that include: Detailed Implementation Planning, Installation and Configuration Training, Business Process Analysis with Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) Draft, System Set-Up and Configuration Workflow Walkthrough with SOP Verification, End-User Training and Go-Live Support.
The SFC went live with AssetWorks in March 2008 and rolled out AiM to all 48 school districts. The school districts all had a variety of asset management systems tracking capital construction and major maintenance monies. While the school districts are not obligated to use AiM to manage their day-to-day routine/preventive maintenance, they are required to use AiM for state level reporting on capital construction and major maintenance projects. Each district is tasked to do five things in AiM: submit payment requests/planned work requests, post charges, attach invoices, approve charges and reconcile yearly major maintenance expenditures.
Anyone who now visits the Wyoming School Facilities Commission website can log into the AiM IWMS database and view financial reports. Project contracts and associated project expenditures, major maintenance and associated expenditures, contract amounts and budgets reports all contain live, real-time data. Not only is this a benefit to Wyoming taxpayers concerned about how tax revenues are spent, but AiM allows the SFC to be more productive and serve the community better.
Before AiM, paper invoices were submitted by certified mail, a costly and time-consuming process. Now, invoices are submitted electronically with a copy of the actual payment application from the vendor attached as a related document. All payment request approvals are handled electronically using AiM security filters and roles which documents the status of any request, at any point in time in the process. Because everything is logged and documented electronically, accountability has increased and the phrase “I never got that invoice” is a thing of the past. The electronic approval of major maintenance projects using the customer request functionality is another example of how technology improves internal controls, efficiency and cost savings.
The SFC is beginning to develop district facility plans using planned work requests and BIRT reporting. BIRT stands for Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools. BIRT is a web-based, open source reporting system that is bundled with AiM. Using BIRT allows the SFC to avoid paying software licensing fees that other reporting tools require. Using AiM to develop district facility plans allows the SFC to prioritize projects, approve projects, reject projects and set revenue streams. By the end of August 2011, all 48 district plans will be publicly accessible via a BIRT report which hyperlinks to the planned work requests providing additional details.
Another huge advantage is the increased control over capital project monies, state appropriations and business process documentation. With AiM, each project phase has a set dollar limit and it is not possible to submit an amount over the contract award amount.
AiM not only provides the SFC with a financial solution, it also provides one central repository for all K-12 building condition details, individual school capacity information, and suitability/functionality data for the state of Wyoming. This allows districts and government officials to view and download documents electronically, as needed, at anytime and anywhere they can connect to the Web.
The most valuable benefit to the SFC is the ability to produce live, accurate reports to deliver to the state legislature and other stakeholders. While other agencies report to the state legislature using PowerPoint presentations and spreadsheets, the SFC uses an internet connection and browser to access AiM and present, in detail, how the agency is managing public funds. This allows the legislature to track state appropriations to the SFC projects on a real-time basis. Before AiM, the SFC could not produce consistent and timely reports to the state legislature and now the reports contain online real-time data, and everything is transparent.
All historical financial data ($1.765 billion) from 2002 forward is accounted for in AiM by district, project, site, building and work code. With careful planning and attention to detail, the State of Wyoming School Facilities Commission is a shining example and champion of what government transparency and accountability should be.