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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

State’s ERP project inspires public value approach

Pennsylvania system used as a case study to assess impact of IT on citizen services

An enterprise resource planning project in Pennsylvania may inspire future government technology initiatives that deliver what some university researchers call a public return on investment.

The state’s Integrated Enterprise System, which spans 53 agencies, was one of five case studies highlighted as part of a research project at the State University of New York at Albany. That effort, led by the school’s Center for Technology in Government with funding and guidance from software vendor SAP, focuses on the public value of information technology as opposed to traditional ROI measures. CTG and SAP officials unveiled the case study and an accompanying white paper in October.

The paper outlines a nonproprietary methodology for assessing the impact of an IT project on public domain stakeholders. The methodology targets specific measures that document public value. Examples of public value include boosting financial management efficiency, which was the case in Pennsylvania.

The state’s project helped shape that methodology, which other agencies will soon use to guide projects, said Russ LeFevre, director of public-sector solutions marketing at SAP.

CTG interviewed Pennsylvania officials and those at the four other case study locations. The lessons learned derived from the case studies drove the development of the methodology, LeFevre said.

CTG’s Pennsylvania case study shows how public value can accrue over time.

The Integrated Enterprise System has generated public value through enhanced efficiency in agencies that perform core administrative functions, CTG’s Pennsylvania case study states. The study specifically reported that the system’s electronic paycheck distribution feature — the state previously mailed paychecks — saved the state $500,000. The report also cited other benefits, such as faster distribution of 2005 income tax forms.

Such investment returns are indirect, according to the CTG public ROI methodology, because they don’t directly affect citizens. But they do improve “the value of government itself from the perspective of citizens,” CTG said.

-John Moore, FCW.com

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