Finding context in stimulus management: A conversation with Actuate’s John Katsoulis and Catrina Robey

In April of this year, the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board launched an effort to enhance the government’s efforts to collect, report, and manage data associated with the Recovery Act. The Recovery Dialogue on IT Solutions resulted in a number of suggestions, stemming from industry experts, vendors and everyday citizens.

One of those ideas came from a company called Actuate, who launched their Stimulus Management Solutions offerings in mid-May. The solution utilizes both open source and software-as-a-service (SaaS) technology to help state and local government jump start the economy.

“We wanted to help our customers visualize the act, so individuals are working towards common set of goals,” said John Katsoulis, senior manager in product marketing, told CivSource in a product demonstration and interview. “Actuate provides a framework that provides strategic clarity.”

By partnering with the Government Performance Institute, Actuate’s Stimulus Management Solutions leverages a library of 12,000 metrics, including 250 pre-built stimulus metrics, and 65 pre-built locations that provide state and regional views to:

  • Track job preservation and creation
  • Leverage solution that can be customized by any agency or level of government
  • Provide stakeholders the insight into the progress of every ARRA initiative
  • Enable better program management
  • Standardize a framework of operational and strategic planning for ARRA programs

The City of Dallas, City of Chicago, King County, San Diego County, Westchester County and the Florida Department of Transportation are a small sample of Actuate’s current client roster. But as varied as each municipality’s economic situation may be, Actuate officials maintain their solution is customizable to their every need.


“The ability to measure strategic objects in context of ARRA is key,” Mr. Katsoulis said. “Additional guidance has made reporting requirements more tangible, aside from just a dollar figure – and that’s where we can show performance metrics.”

“With Stimulus Management we can say, ‘This is what we expect government to publish for public consumption.’ Then customers can modify,” Mr. Katsoulis said.

“With each subsequent release of guidance, more options will be available. It really is in the spirit of integrated performance management,” added Catrina Robey, a solution specialist who works with Actuate’s performance management solutions group.

Another feature of Stimulus Management Solutions is its integrated BIRT and e.spreadsheet reports. The Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools (BIRT) Project is an open-source software project that provides reporting and business intelligence capabilities for rich client and web applications, especially those based on Java and J2EE. The solution was built to work with Actuate’s Performancesoft and BIRT applications either as an internal or hosted solution.


“We’re seeing a growing interest at open source and SaaS,” Mr. Katsoulis said, “A shift is happening.”

“Building the solution didn’t take as long as the planning portion,” according to Ms. Robey. “We made a decision to produce a stimulus act report, or build a system that could manage a host of reports. We decided to tap all our resources.”