Thursday, January 22, 2009

Minnesota Management and Budget merger; Two system hearings today

Yesterday at the Capitol

Senate panel learns about MMB merger
The Senate State Government Budget Division committee members heard from Commissioner Tom Hanson yesterday about the merger of the Dept. of Finance and the Dept. of Employee Relations into the new agency Minnesota Management and Budget.

Hanson said the two departments were merged on June 1, 2008 and the Management Analysis and Development Division of the Dept. of Administration joined the agency in August, 2008. He said the agency's mission is to increase state government's capacity to manage and utilize financial, human, information and analytical resources to ensure exceptional service and value for Minnesota's citizens.

Deputy Commissioner Stephanie Andrews reviewed the projects underway to better use financial information. She said the three major projects include a citizen transparency initiative, renewing the budget information system and replacing the Minnesota Accounting and Procurement System (MAPS).

Lori Mo, assistant commissioner, outlined the process for upgrading MAPS. "MAPS is the state's basic financial management system and was first implemented in 1995." She said the system is used by all branches of state government and that millions of transactions are processed through MAPS every year. However, Mo said technical obsolescence threatens the system and that it is increasingly incompatible with the state's newer information systems. Mo said the benefits of modernization of the system include a stable technical infrastructure, better information available for decision making and greater efficiency. The next steps are to obtain funding, issue a request for proposals, select a vendor and begin the two year implementation period, Mo said.

Strategies for adapting Minnesota's human resources programs for the future were outlined by Assistant Commissioner Judy Plante. Plante said workforce planning and development include redirecting staffing and compensation efforts, simplifying the job posting and application process and improvements to the employee assistance program. She said ramping up workforce planning means retraining efforts, developing connections with Minnesota educational institutions, recruiting the next generation of state workers and planning for the replacement of retiring baby boomers.

Nathan Moracco, of the department reviewed the state employee group insurance plan (SEGIP). He said the plan covers 50,000 state employees and, in many cases their families, and covers all three branches of government. He said the group includes a number of quasi state agencies, such as the Historical Society and Affinity Plus Credit Union.

The panel also heard an overview of the statewide systems billing operation, which is the basic mechanism to fund the operating costs of the statewide systems such as MAPS, payroll and benefits and related information access systems.

Today at the Capitol

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system will be testifying at two hearings today; Senate Higher Education at 12:30 and House Capital Investment at 2:45 (see the schedules below for details). In the Senate, Senior Vice Chancellor Linda Baer will speak about online learning and in the House, Chancellor James McCormick and Al Johnson, Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities, will provide information on the progress of bonding projects from the 2008 bonding bill as well as present projects for 2009.

Potential capital projects for 2009 include the five projects that were approved by the Legislature in the 2008 bonding bill, but were vetoed by the Governor. Design is complete, and they are ready for bid. Also in the request is $50 million in HEAPR spread out across the system and four projects that were partially funded in the 2008 legislative session for design, anticipating construction funding in 2010. Aggressive planning work has moved design forward so these projects can be bid within three to eight months of funding. The total is $117 million.

At the Capitol:
Legislative schedules are available for the House and Senate.

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