Arkansas will be the first state to deploy technology to monitor its stimulus spending in real time, IBM said this week.
IBM's Recovery Act Performance technology will track the Natural State's use of grants it receives for education through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It will help Arkansas comply with federal mandates to report spending and analyze the effectiveness of efforts supported by the largest government spending program in decades.
The federal government has mandated that states report their use of funds by late October, and IBM is working with more than 2,000 federal, state, and local agencies to improve financial management systems and business processes. IBM's clients include several large U.S. cities and 31 of the 50 states.
The Arkansas Department of Education is on track to receive nearly $570 million in stimulus funds over the next six months. The money will funnel down through the state's local education agencies to public schools to increase students' academic performance and achievement, provide services that assist students with disabilities and low incomes, build educational facilities, and acquire better technology.
IBM's Web-based tracking tool combines business intelligence and performance management technologies, as well as providing access to financial managers with government expertise. It tracks effectiveness, job creation, and overall success, while helping managers adjust project plans when they appear headed for cost overruns.
"The ability to quickly monitor, control, and report on stimulus grants is critical to generating the most benefit to citizens, and ensuring transparency and accountability," Gerry Mooney, IBM's government general manager, said in a statement. "Advances in financial management technology can play a crucial role in helping governmental organizations manage spending in real time and demonstrate that their programs are having a positive impact in their community."
Local, state, and federal leaders can access the open software and exchange information. They can use the technology to measure spending on services against benchmarks like job creation and job retention, and they can compare programs to other agencies and states.
Arkansas also has launched a Web site to help Arkansans understand where the money is going and how it's spent.
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