CSU Budget Access System Tops Recognitions For State's "Best Practices"

A program that pays bills via the Internet, a system that increases the pass rate of students on the Regents test and CSU-developed software that helps college planners budget more effectively are among the best practices identified through a new University System of Georgia competition.

The initial eight recipients of the University Systems first Best Practices Awards were recognized Oct. 8 during the Board of Regents meeting held on the campus of Valdosta State University. The competition selected the eight winners out of 73 submissions from 22 institutions. The program is designed to help the states 34 public colleges and universities become more efficient and effective in their operations.

These examples can serve as models to help all University System institutions enhance their operations, which is a key goal of the Boards Strategic Plan, said University System Chancellor Thomas C. Meredith.

The competition divided the entries into four categories: finance and business, academic affairs, student affairs and information technology. Senior University System of Georgia administrators in each of the four evaluated and scored the entries on the basis of their impact on operations, the benefits the practices provided to students, faculty, staff or others, and the effectiveness and efficiencies created, including cost savings, cost avoidance or productivity increases. Two top recipients were identified in each of the four categories, with the top recipient receiving a $15,000 award and the second-place recipient receiving $10,000. Funds were provided from a strategic allocation established by the University System Office to reward programs of excellence.

The Best Practices Awards winners are:

Finance and Business


First Place: Columbus State University Peoplesoft Financials Budget Access System -- Columbus State developed The PeopleSoft Financials Budget Access System to provide department heads with online access to their budget information. Each morning an automated process is run that links Columbus State Universitys server to the server with our financials data in Athens and updates CSUs database with transactions from the previous days business activity (e.g. encumbrances and expenses for travel, operating supplies, equipment purchases, etc). Department heads can view their budget information online or print reports with summary and detail information for appropriation, organization, and project/grant accounts. Each authorized budget user is assigned a unique three-digit code that allows that user access to the system.

From the viewpoint of the Business Office and the campus as a whole, this system has numerous substantial benefits:

* Printed reports are no longer required saves time and paper.

* Telephone calls have been reduced. Departments have current access to their financial data; therefore fewer questions arise.

* Casual users can easily understand the system screens and reports.

* The program is account specific in that users view their assigned accounts.

* If the system is down in Athens, our data is still available.

The PeopleSoft Financials Budget Access System is a good example of the level of expertise available on campus,' said CSU President Frank Brown. 'This is the result of CSU team members taking a situation that was complicated and cumbersome and making it accessible. We have saved time and money and made it easier to track finances for budget experts and also placed information in a format readily accessible and understandable to the casual user.

University officials credited Vera H. Bailes, senior programmer for CINS, and Lougene Brown and Anna Brooks, from the the business office, as primary forces behind the project.

Second Place: University of Georgia Re-engineering How the University Pays its Bills -- UGA developed a web-based digital imaging work process that has eliminated most of the paperwork associated with bill payment, and netted a total savings of $140,000.

Academic Affairs

First Place: Gainesville College Successful Practices to Prepare Students to Pass the Regents Test Gainesville developed a comprehensive and cost-effective instructional system that helps students prepare for the Regents Essay Test. The program was created through the Colleges Academic Computing, Tutoring and Testing (ACTT) Center, and improves retention, provides more effective utilization of full-time faculty and is projected to save instructional costs.

Second Place: Georgia Southern University P-16 Partnership for Teaching/Learning Renewal -- This program involves a collaboration between Georgia Southern, the Screven County School System and the Savannah River Challenge Program to help narrow the achievement gap between minority and majority students.

Student Affairs

First Place: Kennesaw State University 24/7 Web Tools for Enrollment Management -- Kennesaw State developed a set of 24/7 self-service web tools to allow prospective freshmen to enter prescribed data for the purpose of determining the likelihood of eligibility prior to applying for admission. This has resulted in significant cost savings and efficiencies in the enrollment management process by cutting back on paper use and staff time to evaluate student interest. Similar versions of the program already are in place at Georgia State University and the University of Georgia.

Second Place: Georgia Institute of Technology Student Web Invoice Statement -- To improve customer service to students, Georgia Tech created a web-based invoice statement to replace the previous statement format and the former process of mailing bills to students. It is estimated this new process will reduce supplies expenses by 50 percent for preparing invoices and 63 percent for postage. Reductions in temporary staffing and payment transactions also are projected to be significant.

Information Technology

First Place: Medical College of Georgia Institutional Research Improvements -- the Medical College has designed a web-accessible data and information system called IRIS. IRIS is a user-friendly, decision support system that provides on-line access to information about key Medical College populations, its peer institutions, the institution's planning process and the institutions impact on the state.

Second Place: Valdosta State University University-Wide Planning -- Valdosta States program integrates strategic planning and budget priorities through a computer-based system that is linked to the Peoplesoft financial system. The program allows departments and units to develop budget projections consistent with the strategic planning goals of the university.

In addition to recognizing the eight award recipients, the regents heard an overview of the competition by Vice Chancellor for Fiscal Affairs William Bowes, as well as individual presentations from the presidents of five of the winning institutions. It is clear from the response to this award program that our institutions are actively engaged in pursuing more efficient and cost effective means of doing business, Bowes said in his report.

In keeping with the theme of the competition, the Best Practices awards program was conducted entirely online. Interested individuals can access full information on the program, the award winners and the criteria for selection on the Best Practices website, located at: http://www.usg.edu/bestpractices/


For more information from CSU, contact Bill Johnson at (706) 569-3047 or by e-mail at johnson_bill@ColumbusState.edu. For more information about the Best Practices competition, contact Arlethia Perry-Johnson at (404)656-2318.