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.. .credit card sales have
resulted in a six-percent
increase in revenue.
providing governmentwide contracts for credit card services from financial institutions. The USGS evaluated four financial institutions before selecting the Mellon Bank to provide Visa and MasterCard sales and then worked together in implementing procedures to track the financial data from the point of sale to inclusion on internal and external financial reports. Not only has the credit card option improved customer service and been a great convenience to the public, credit card sales have resulted in a sixpercent increase in revenue.
The Use of Bankcards for Small
The Federal Government uses simplified, or small purchase procedures for the procurement of goods and services totaling $25,000 or less. At the USGS, the majority of these small purchases are accomplished by written purchase orders, authorized cash transactions, and orders placed against agreements negotiated with small businesses.
To streamline small purchase procedures, the USGS initiated a pilot bankcard project in fiscal year 1989 utilizing the Department of Commerce Bankcard system. For the pilot program, approximately 90 bankcards were issued to personnel in the Southeast Region District Offices of the Water Resources Division.
The use of bankcards for official purchases is expected to provide purchasing and project personnel with an efficient and cost-effective procurement method. Bankcards may be used for over-the-counter and telephone order transactions in much the same way as personal credit cards. Merchants accepting the card for Government purchases collect payment from the Federal Government through channels established by the credit card company and the parent bank.
Cardholders are authorized to use bankcards within the limits stated in their Delegation of BankCard Authority and consistent with all applicable procurement regulations. Transactions are reviewed and approved by an approving official and are subject to review by the Office of Procurement and Contracts, the Office of Financial Management, or other reviewing authorities.
In fiscal year 1990, bureauwide implementation of the bankcard program is anticipated under the Federal Supply Schedule contract awarded by the General Services Administration to Rocky Mountain Bankcard Systems, Inc.
By Betty B. Brodes
The U.S. Congress has enacted several programs that utilize the federal procurement process to directly assist small and small, disadvantaged businesses in obtaining awards of federal contracts. The USGS supports these programs through its efforts to achieve the Business and Economic Development Program (BEDP) goals that are established annually in conjunction with the Department of the Interior.
The USGS was selected to receive the Department of the Interior's Unit Award for Excellence of Service during fiscal year 1989. This award is presented annually by the Secretary of the Interior to a bureau or office that either meets or exceeds each of its business and economic development program goals. The USGS not only met, but exceeded its fiscal year 1989 small business, minority business, women-oriented business, and labor surplus area set-aside program goals. These annual goals represent a percentage of the total procurement dollars and are based on historical data and advance procurement plans. The success was a result of continuing positive efforts on the part
of contracting and project personnel to identify new opportunities for BEDP participation in USGS programs.
In a related accomplishment, for the second consecutive year, a USGS nominee was selected to receive the Department's Minority Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Secretary Lujan presented this year's award to Miracle Cleaning Services, Inc., in recognition of excellence of performance in janitorial and trash removal services at the National Center. Miracle Cleaning Services was chosen from other small, disadvantaged businesses who have provided outstanding service to Interior offices and bureaus.
As another example of efforts to expand small business procurement, a cooperative effort between Business and Economic Development Specialists and USGS personnel in all Water Resources Division District Offices has resulted in increased representation in small and small, disadvantaged business conferences that are sponsored by congressional delegations, civic organizations, and other government agencies. This outreach activity provides information about USGS programs to the small and minorityowned business community and identifies these firms as potential suppliers of USGS activities.
By Eliot J. Christian
People, funds, facilities, and equipment all are needed to carry out the scientific research and technical programs of the USGS. The administrative management of these resources throughout the USGS is a cooperative effort in financial management, personnel services, facilities management, property management, safety and improvement efforts, and administrative systems management. Automation is becoming an increasingly critical factor in accomplishing the management of resources within applicable laws and regulations—at the lowest possible cost.
Automation efforts have been proceeding on two levels: A Strategic Initiative aimed at large scale automated applications affecting whole organizations, and an Office Automation Initiative aimed at enhancing the productivity of individuals.
Enhancing administrative processing through automation is a major focus of efforts to help USGS managers to manage resources efficiently. Four strategic goals with respect to administrative automation are currently being pursued:
• Automated administrative systems should be easily accessible to all who need them.
• An electronic flow of information should replace paper processing wherever possible.
• Administrative procedures should be streamlined and standardized.
• A high level of integration among administrative systems should exist.
Automated Administrative Systems Should be Accessible. The intent is to design administrative Automated Data Processing (ADP) applications that are both effective and easy to use, especially with an eye toward encouraging use of efficient, USGS-wide systems rather than redundant, independent systems. While working toward a full range of automation support for administrative process
ing, it is recognized that no one set of centrally maintained systems can serve all the needs of all the users at all detail levels needed. Given that a measure of local administrative processing is appropriate and desirable, a major challenge is to design centralized processes so that they either can stand alone or can complement a range of distributed processes. Toward that end, administrative information databases are being placed in a central repository that is readily accessible to all users. The USGS is also pursuing (1) standard telecommunications interfaces that will make it easier to share information and (2) increased software compatibility among the various administrative systems. By so doing, a foundation is being laid for integrating more fully the various USGS automated applications that can share common databases.
An Electronic Flow of Information Should Replace Paper Processing Wherever Possible. One aspect of administrative processing that has already been a prime candidate for increased efficiency is the handling of information that is represented on paper. Since it is often the case that much of this information is eventually transformed into a machinereadable form, one goal is to move that data entry function as close as possible to the source of the information. Replacing the paper flow of information with electronic information at the earliest point in an automated system is a less costly way to move information, and it also can help to reduce data being entered more than once and improve the reliability of the data.
The first step is to identify the information being moved and the paths by which it flows. In classic system analysis style, a given set of work processes is broken down to reveal where information may be needlessly generated or handled inefficiently, and from this analysis a new set of processes is designed. However, a problem with this approach occurs when work areas are handled separately. If a system is defined too narrowly at the outset, a specific work area may be improved internally, but it will not be apparent how that island of automation can be connected to others or how the approach used could be applied in other areas. As a consequence, opportunities for improving the flow of information
can be missed entirely. Recognizing the need for a broad and unified approach, efforts are underway to comprehensively analyze internal administrative procedures and to produce a model of administrative information processing.
Administrative Procedures Should be Streamlined and Standardized. Streamlining and standardizing procedures are keyed to meeting the USGS's needs for administrative services with a minimum of burden. As part of this effort, an ongoing review of administrative systems is in use throughout the Bureau to identify opportunities for streamlining operations and eliminating duplication. One recent review in this program focused on personnel systems and generated several specific recommendations that are now being pursued. The paperless processing in the USGS of Requests for Personnel Action (Standard Form 52) is an outgrowth of this effort.
At a basic level, the challenge to streamline and standardize administrative procedures demands that information requirements first be reduced to their barest essentials. Efforts are underway to develop an administrative information processing model that will help to identify what information must be delivered by the users served and what information can be made available to those users.
Administrative Systems Should be Highly Integrated. Without a high level of integration among administrative systems, users can be burdened with
Property management level data-flow diagram. One of the tools that is used in building an Information Model.
confusing procedures for providing information and could receive information that is arrayed piecemeal instead of in a concise form. A related concern is that gaps between what should be related svstems make for more internal work than would be necessary to achieve the same end result. Since highly integrated systems are also more easily maintained than separate or discrete systems, a strong incentive clearly exists to integrate administrative systems wherever possible.
The recent creation of two Departmental Administrative Service Centers, one hosted by the USGS and one hosted bv the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), was a major step toward integration among administrative systems. The USGS has the lead role in the financial management area, represented by the comprehensive Federal Financial System just implemented this year; BOR has the lead role in the area of Personnel and Payroll Processing. The systems are also targeted bv the Office of Management and Budget as model systems with application throughout the Federal Government. Since the Federal Financial System is able to be expanded into additional administrative functional areas, such as procurement and property management, USGS leadership in this system presents a real opportunity for enhancing integration among administrative systems.
Office Automation Initiative
In addition to working on broadbased ADP applications that affect the whole USGS, the Administrative Division has implemented minicomputer applications that provide automation support for internal administrative processes. Three minicomputer systems in operation at USGS regional centers in Reston, Va., Denver, Colo., and Menlo Park, Calif., are linked via GEONET, a nationwide data communications system, forming a network having very advanced capabilities, including a true distributed database. Two of the major applications implemented during fiscal year 1989 on these minicomputers are the Property Management System and the Procurement Management Information System. One advantage gained from conversion of the Property Management System to
this network of minicomputers is support for on-line processing and editing of data, which in turn improves the quality and timeliness of property data and reduces the amount of time needed to respond to inquiries. USGS employees can now access information and generate reports for selected data in the property database, thereby reducing the need for duplicate systems within the Bureau. The new Procurement Management Information System provided additional flexibility. Used to track and report on contract, grant, and purchasing workload, it has been making special reporting needs and adaptation to changing requirements much easier to accomplish.
Understanding the problems that arise when offices have incompatible automated systems, the Administrative Division set out to build a cohesive system for office automation divisionwide that would also accommodate connection with systems in the other USGS divisions. Consequently, the division standardized word processing, electronic mail, and other computing activities throughout all offices by using the MS-DOS based personal computer (PC) as a standard. This PC-based office automation approach has allowed for a fully compatible set of equipment and software that covers a wide range of needs, ranging from Computer Aided Design (CAD) systems and software engineering to desktop publishing, as well as document preparation and distribution.
PC-based local area networks have been established at Headquarters and regional centers to tie together office automation capabilities. The use of local area networks at USGS regional centers has permitted the local sharing of printers and large capacity disk drives, and also provides for common electronic filing. By connecting these networks together via GEONET, the local networks further support the sharing of information in electronic form. Each site's local area network also has telecommunications gateway facilities to allow employees at all sites to access the Division's networked minicomputers and other USGS computer systems. Recently, Compact Disk Read Only Memory (CDROM) servers have been placed on the network so that each user can have immediate desktop access to many
billions of characters of information organized with sophisticated search and retrieval software.
Examples of recent applications of automation support to a variety of administrative tasks include:
• Computer Aided Design (CAD) systems using the AutoCAD software on networked personal computers are now installed and operational in USGS regional and headquarters offices. Users enter architectural drawings of the buildings into the system and are able to accommodate changes as needed. Not only does the handling of construction drawings with CAD yield a better product at a lower cost, the new system
also helps improve standardization of information.
• The new Automated Solicitation and Contract Preparation system allows for the rapid generation of solicitation and contract documents tailored to the requirements of a specific acquisition.
Sophisticated information processing and document assembly form the heart of the system, supplemented by relevant information from the Federal Acquisition Regulations. From the client perspective, this system helps reduce the lead time necessary to issue a solicitation document and also improves the quality of contract documents.
• Building maintenance can also be scheduled and tracked via computer, using an off-the-shelf PC-based software package.
• New PC-based software supports a paperless system for the collection, calculation, and transmission of time and attendance information. The system was developed based on a system available from the Department of Commerce and pilot tested by the Administrative Division. The system is now being tested
in other USGS divisions and in other agencies.