New public sector offering from Microsoft aimed at stimulus funds

Microsoft officially announced Microsoft Stimulus360 this afternoon, though details have been forthcoming from the company for a few weeks now. Microsoft Stimulus360 is touted as an all-inclusive look at “the full life cycle of economic stimulus programs to provide greater accountability at all levels” of government, according to company information.

In a statement released today, Gail Thomas-Flynn, general manager of Microsoft’s state and local business said, “Stimulus360 provides a tool that governments can immediately use to meet the specific and often complex requirements of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.” The application is a SharePoint-based solution that helps federal, state and local governments track manage all aspects of stimulus-funded projects through maps, dashboards and analytics.

The offering is but one of a recent flurry of Microsoft releases aimed at the public sector.

On April 1, 2009, Microsoft launched a public sector on-demand solution that promoted their first major foray into Web 2.0, Microsoft’s Public Sector Idea Bank (publicsectorondemand.com). The suite includes multiple tools utilizing cloud-computing, browser-based services. “The Public Sector On-Demand cloud-based solutions we are launching with our partners represent the first of many such hosted applications. This is a big step forward for Microsoft in providing choice and flexibility for how these solutions are delivered,” according to Curt Kolcun, vice president, U.S. Public Sector at Microsoft. The On-Demand offering is designed to be a super-secretary or group of interns for government agencies – streamlining the workload, but still performing clerical duties.

Included in the On-Demand offering, is a way to streamline information and FOIA requests, an application to streamline licensing and permits, a way to co-organize and approve agendas, a case management application for constituents and a sort of Facebook for K-12, where teachers, administrators, parents and their children can interact.

  • Public Records Tracker helps to organize and automate public records requests for all levels of government, aimed at helping offices being compliant with the Public Records Act and Freedom of Information Act requests.
  • The subscription-based FastTrackGov automates applications for licensing, permitting, code enforcement and inspection management for organizations hoping to expedite revenue collection efforts and enhance citizen satisfaction.
  • Agenda Builder integrates with Microsoft Office to monitor progress on agenda preparation and prevent unnecessary delays. It’s meant to make agenda preparation for those that need preapproval easier while helping organizations achieve “green initiative goals through reduced paper usage.”
  • Constituent Issue Manager is a case management tool that facilitates constituent requests for assistance or information, offering address validation capability and duplication detection.
  • Inspection Manager provides a Web-based case management system that gives field inspectors and inside office staff the tools needed to schedule and perform abatement process when violations are found and citations are issued.
  • The Backpack 2008 Student Information System (SIS) provides on-demand social student information designed to allow administrators, staff and teachers to manage all aspects of the district. Meanwhile the Web-based portal that’s part of the Backpack Community provides parents and students with full, real-time transparency, interactivity and communication with teachers and each other.

Where Public Sector On-Demand is a general application to make government more efficient, Stimulus360 is a solution aimed directly at Recovery Act reporting requirements.

On April 15, 2009, Microsoft released information on its latest public sector offering, Stimulus360. Some of the benefits of Stimulus360 listed by the company include end-to-end data tracking with dashboards, graphs, maps and data visualization tools, as well as easy integration with other Microsoft offerings such as Word, Excel and SharePoint.

But according to Microsoft National Technology Officer Stuart McKee, the real force driving Stimulus360 is a need to provide a “single view into all related ‘stimulus’ monies.” Mr. McKee submitted an idea to the recently held Recovery Dialogue on IT Solutions, advocating for the development of a tool that addresses “the quality, source, and cost of the data that will be collected and made accessible,” as mandated by the Recovery Act.

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