DONA ANA COUNTY CONVERTS FINANCIAL DATABASE TO PAPERLESS FORMAT

DONA ANA COUNTY CONVERTS FINANCIAL DATABASE TO PAPERLESS FORMAT

With 26 departments spread out over nearly a dozen buildings, Dona Ana County government generates a veritable flood of paperwork each week through its financial system – for everything from purchase orders and requisitions to time sheets and payroll records.
But the flood waters are receding.
Peter Cooper, director of the county’s Department of Information Services, said the county recently completed conversion to a paperless database for financial transactions. The database, called Banner, allows county employees (at varying levels of security clearances) to input financial data from their desktops into the system, which automatically updates all accounts every two minutes.
“This system,” Cooper said, “literally gives us an up-to-the-minute method of allocating, controlling and auditing county funds that is accessible from any desktop with the appropriate security clearance and passwords.”
Through the Banner system, Cooper said, a system of checks and balances helps to insure that county funds are not misspent or diverted from line-item to line-item. Every request to allocate funds, he said, goes through the county’s Finance and Purchasing departments for line-item and commodity-code approval before the system will begin to process a request.
Tracking a requisition, Cooper said, used to involve a great deal of physical effort to follow a paper trail. With the Banner system, he said, each department can check the progress of a request by computer as it makes its way through the approval, allocation, invoice, receipt and payment status. The system also allows department heads to closely track each line-item of their individual budgets, he said, which reduces administrative overhead costs and curtails the need to make wholesale budget amendments toward the end of the fiscal year.
The Banner system, Cooper said, was installed “in record time” in Dona Ana County by Systems and Computer Technology Corporation (SCT) of Malvern, Pa. The system already is being used by 2,500 clients in 27 countries. Other regional users include the City of Las Cruces, University of Texas at El Paso, TVI in Albuquerque and a consortium of New Mexico’s smaller universities.
Cost to the county for the system, Cooper said, was $180,000, financed over five years.
“We attribute the swift, successful implementation of the Banner system,” Cooper said, “to the hard work and high quality of the county employees involved with the installation and training. SCT’s personnel were very appreciative of the expertise and positive approach to the new software by county personnel.”

He singled out the departments of Finance and Information Systems, whose staff members assessed system alternatives, factored in cost-savings and efficiency of various programs and brought themselves up to speed on the Banner system quickly to ease the transition for other county employees.
For more information about the Banner system, call Cooper at (505) 647-7444.