Stimulus Funds Project Management and Tracking Challenges
For many entities that receive stimulus funds, this level of tracking and reporting may already be done on a different scale or in a different manner, or it may be completely different than any level of management and reporting done in the past. Regardless, virtually all entities will require new ways to handle this new federal mandate.
Creating a new application or system from scratch for handling these new levels of reporting is not likely to be an attractive alternative. ARRA spending is temporary, and possibly very short-lived depending upon the program involved. Additionally, the first reports are due in October which makes for too short of a timeline for success.
That leaves governments and contractors to choose between modifying an existing system, or implementing a new pre-packaged tracking system. The decision likely rests upon how closely a current tracking and spending system matches up to the new requirements and how easily implementing the necessary changes or additions will be.
For those without a usable system already in place, purchasing a stimulus tracking and reporting system may make the most sense. However, with the tight time frames involved and the small amount of time such a system will be needed for, many entities will find it to be too time consuming and cost prohibitive to purchase and install a new software system along with the required hardware.
Online, web-based systems will therefore be the preferred method of tracking and reporting. Several vendors have already released products designed specifically to keep a handle on stimulus dollars and create the necessary reports. Products such as Acumen Solutions' START, IBM’s Cognos, CGI Reporting Gateway, and Microsoft’s Stimulus 360 are all available now and should be given immediate consideration for any group or department that will be receiving ARRA distributions.