Counting on accuracy
Since the Norwalk, Conn.-based Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) passed Statement 34 in 1999, requiring local governments to calculate asset depreciation, Fulton County, Pa., has been revamping the form and substance of its financial reports to establish a dollar value for current and long-term assets. “We knew changing our accounting methodology would require information not previously collected, plus financial statements that would help measure operational accountability on an accrual basis,” says Business Manager Tim Stanton. “To meet the latter requirement, we needed GASB 34-compliant accounting software.”
Between 2004 and 2007, Fulton County changed accounting systems twice. “The older system, used for decades, was proprietary and character-based,” Stanton says. “We paid a substantial fee for each machine added to the system, plus the system was available only through a leased line with the company that wrote the software.” After that, the county tried another vendor’s Windows-based system that did not meet its needs, either.
In July 2006, the county selected Sage MIP Fund Accounting software from Irvine, Calif.-based Sage Software and contracted with North Palm Beach, Fla.-based NonProfit Technologies to install it. In January 2007, the system went live across most county departments. “[Now], department heads have real-time information about their budgets and departmental performance,” Stanton says. “There’s no more waiting until month’s end for a hard copy report. Security within the software restricts users from seeing another department’s information.”
The speed of accounts payable is faster because each department keys its own invoices and sends them to the business office for review, posting and check distribution. Previously, invoices were sent to a central location for keying and check distribution. “With our limited staff, this process resulted in a payment processing bottleneck,” Stanton says.
The Services for Children Department currently is testing the new accounting system. For years, the department has been tracking transactions on three systems and then reconciling them to create reports for state agencies. With the new system, the department has designed a program to create the different reports more easily.
Project: Accounting software
Jurisdiction: Fulton County, Pa.
Vendor: Irvine, Calif.-based Sage Software and North Palm Beach, Fla.-based NonProfit Technologies
Date completed: January 2007