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Questions Remain About When V.I. Government Will Be Able to Pay Vendors

Dec. 7, 2006 Despite the challenges of implementing a completely new financial management system, the Finance commissioner says invoices are being processed and checks have been issued "to date" to the tune of $231 million.
However, a two-page press release from Commissioner Bernice Turnbull leaves a number of unanswered questions: why are several departments unable to interface with the system, when will the delays be cleared, how many invoices remain unpaid (and from which departments), and exactly what "to date" means.
Turnbull was "off island" Thursday and unavailable to answer any questions, according to a Finance employee who answered the phone.
But Turnbull did put out a release in response, she noted, to a Source article "to clarify several points that may help the public better understand the current phase of the Enterprise Resource Planning System (ERP) implementation."
Last Friday the Source reported that invoices from several departments had not been processed since the new financial management system had been turned on Oct. 1 at the beginning of the V.I. government fiscal year (See "Government's New Finance System Could Be the Grinch That Steals Christmas").
The Source also reported that a parallel system had not been run — rather the old system was shut down when the new one went into effect.
"A decision was made not to run the exiting Financial Management System (FMS) parallel because we anticipated that the information that would be imported into the Munis ERP system would be in good condition," Turnbull wrote. "However, like is the case in many other jurisdictions and businesses, extracted and imported data from the old FMS needed additional data cleaning."
According to Turnbull, the process has resulted in some delays. She said this was only the second time the government had installed a new financial management system and therefore it was not feasible that "all problems could be projected and proactive solutions identified since … the government of the Virgin Islands is such a unique entity."
Turnbull said that as they are "debugging the system," the Finance Department and Tyler Technologies the software company contracted to set up the new system "will continue to provide any and all assistance to guarantee successful financial processing."
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