A Government Agency That Does Debt Settlement?

Debt settlement comes when you can’t continue to pay off your current debt at the same interest due to financial problems. Some people will choose to file for bankruptcy while some will try to avoid the embarrassment and opt for debt settlement instead. Trying to negotiate on your own may not be futile and this can be quite a task more so when you have several debts.

There are many debt settlement companies that are private but when you need government services, there are government consolidation agencies that can help you do that. Local government consolidation agencies are the ones that offer debt settlement services and you have to apply for them. Applying for these services is free but you have to realize that not all applications are accepted. This in most cases will depend on the type of debt you have and the assessment of your current situation.

Government consolidation agencies will provide the services that a private debt settlement company will do. Anyone with debt problems can apply to this and you can always walk into the local government agency to apply or do it online anytime. So if you don’t seem to find a suitable private company, your local government consolidation agency will come in handy.

The good thing with government consolidation agencies is that they can always tell you what you can do when your application is rejected. Most of their services are free, even the debt management advices. That is why it is always beneficial to engage their services. They will educate you on how to manage your finances better so as to pay your debts and bills easily.

Local government consolidation agencies play a vital role too in helping people repay their debts as well as creditors in getting back their money. With a government agency, you can also get yourself out of debt easily with a reduced lump sum, premium payments and interest rates.

What to Look For in Government Accounting Software

Managing a local or county government is a big job that requires strict public accountability, organization, teamwork, and efficiency. Along with hiring the best people to fill positions of responsibility, selecting a reliable software system to help manage government accounting is of the utmost importance. If you are in a position of choosing the very best in software to help handle your government’s daily duties, here are some qualities to look for in government accounting software.

– General Financial

Taxpayers and citizens are rightfully concerned with the proper use of their taxes and other funds that are channeled into their local governments. When purchasing a software suite, make sure that the financial end of the program is comprehensive enough to be able to handle virtually aspects of money management. For example, it should be flexible enough to be able to generate custom financial reports, take care of billings and payments, and contain an internal auditing system that double checks transactions on an ongoing basis. Individual data bases for every facet of the financial side of government ensure that actions are updated properly and everything runs as smoothly as possible with little room for error.

– Human Resources

In addition to assisting with general financial matters, the software suite should help a government to manage its employees easily and efficiently. It should be able to organize and take care of payroll, payroll direct deposit, timekeeping, benefits, and every other aspect of human resource financial management.

– Facilities management

A good software system will streamline a government’s utilities billing process, making the care of facilities expenses easier and more efficient. You should be able to prorate services, automate meter reading, and even use a billing module to pay bills automatically and directly from the government’s accounts.

The government accounting software suite should be user-friendly and intuitive with simple menus that can be easily understood and used by employees with a wide range of computer skills. It should be able to interface with other areas within the accounting department to maximize communication and share data when needed. Of course, there should be security checks in place that restrict access and provide an additional safety net to ensure that all financial transactions are being performed by the proper persons at the right times. People in charge should be able to know what information was changed, when it was changed, and who changed it at the touch of a button.

Running a government is difficult enough without having to constantly struggle with the management of its computer systems. Make sure to choose software from a company with a healthy track record of providing incredible products along with excellent service.

Government Actions

Today more and more Americans are going to auctions to purchase such items as cars, trucks, suv’s, boats, real estate and many personal property items. The list of items that might be auctioned off goes on and on. You might attend a private auction or perhaps a Government Auction.

At Government Auctions you’ll find items that became the property of Uncle Sam through seizure and surplus laws. Every month across the united states, thousands of vehicles are seized by different Government agencies and police departments and auctioned off to the public. These vehicles are listed and sold at up to 95% off their original value and bidding often starts as low as $100.

Additionally, Government institutions regularly auction off their ex-police cars and government service vehicles. These Government pre-owned vehicles are well maintained and usually only 2-3 years old. Considering all the different departments and levels of government across the United States gives you an idea of just how many vehicles are up for auction each month. Because of the constant influx of vehicles and other goods and the overwhelming expense to store them, the government must get rid of them fast and at a huge savings to you.

Government Auctions can be online or at a location near your home. However, finding good information about auction sites on the internet is very hard. The good ones are imitated and copied many, many times over and sorting out the bad from the good can be very difficult. But if your looking for an opportunity to save money do your research, it can be well worth the effort. It’s easy and economical to purchase a pre-owned vehicle from the Government and there are many benefits such as quality maintenance, low mileage and a large variety of makes and models.

Local Auctions vs. Online Auctions

When attending a local auction, find a reputable auction house that allows potential buyers to inspect the vehicles before the bidding starts and inspect every aspect of the vehicle that you plan to bid on. If you jot down the VIN number of the vehicle you’re interested in you can perform a car history search which may reveal if the car has been in any accidents. You may want to bring a mechanic along to assist you with the inspection since there is usually no warranty, guarantee or return policy with car auctions, so you want to be absolutely sure that the car is worth the money that you’ll be spending.

Before going to an auction, formulate a plan outlining what types of vehicles you’re looking for, and determine the estimated value. Be sure to set limits on what you plan to spend. Often car auctions are very fast paced and it’s easy to get caught up in the bidding experience. You don’t want to bid higher than you can afford.

Pre register with the auction house and have the auction staff explain all the rules, regulations and procedures to you.

When bidding, signal clearly to the auctioneer so you don’t miss out on the vehicle of your choice. If you win a bid, all that’s left to do is settle up and drive away in your new vehicle. Both local and online auctions accept cash, checks and credit cards. Some auction houses can even set you up with a third-party financing offer.

Online auctions can come with some risks if you don’t do your research and use a reputable site to find the auction. Be aware of scams, which are plentiful in the online world. Do your research and be aware of all the consequences of buying online.

Online auto auctions work a lot like on-site auctions, except that there isn’t usually a preview period and you can’t inspect the car for damages. A reputable online car auction will list all the information you need to make your decision and they’ll send the car to you for a nominal fee. The only thing that you need to do to take advantage of these terrific deals is to know where and when the next government car auctions are taking place.

I would only recommend that you use a professional auction website with a well established reputation. The online website you choose should offer correct and updated links to government online auctions and also an updated registry of all the 3,000+ live auctions across the nation. Additionally, always choose a site that has a reasonable refund policy and professional online customer service to answer any questions that your might have.

The Trillion Dollar Market Place – The United States Government

The United States Government and it’s divisions are the best game in town if you really want to start a profitable business with little to no start up money and with very little knowledge. The US Government spends Trillions of dollar each and every year to run the country.

Think about it, the federal government is the largest employer in the world, they buy more toilet paper staples pens paper computers or anything else you can think of than any other country or corporation on the planet and for as far as I can tell their is no end in sight for this financial gravy train for those of us that are smart enough to get on board and profit from the services and products that are being bought every single day from large and small companies all over the USA and even from other countries.

Many year ago when I was in my late teens I would talk a lot about getting rich, making lots of money, becoming a million dollar man, and one day just by chance I was telling my father a retired Air Force Senior Master Sargent about my dreams of becoming a million dollar man and he looked at me and said, what I now think of as one of the best things he or anyone has ever told me in my life and that is that if you really want to get rich follow the path of most of the Billionaires in this country do business with the Federal Government.

I was young and dumb back then so I asked him what I could do to make money with the Federal Government other than joining the Air Force or some other branch of the military, and he simply said to me everything you can think of they buy, and they buy more of it than any one. After I let that thought sink in I started thinking about this guy I know named Andre who’s family owned a record shop in town and they sold records tapes and CD’s to the base recreation center via contract every month to the tune of tens of thousand every year.

I also thought about Donald who worked for a contract cleaning company that cleaned the base Commissary and BX every night for years at what I heard was for a nice profit in fact the owner of the company was a millionaire many times over. It really started to make sense to me as I started thinking about the people that I knew and how they had been able to contract with the Federal Government on so many levels and make more than just a living from doing so, I knew that at some point and time in my life that I would have to find ways to contract with and make money from doing business with the Federal Government.

We as a country may be going through great financial problems with high unemployment, and foreclosure and just bad news every place you look, but I’m here to tell you that not every one is going through the pains of a bad economy, some our prospering because they know something that most others do not and that is how to do business with the Federal Government selling a product or service. I am going to give you just one ideal that can and will change your financial out look if you put it in to action. I am also going to tell you how you can take the first step in learning about how to get contracts with the Fed’s.

Think of this as your own personal financial bailout from the Federal Government. The best and fastest ways to find out about opportunities with the federal Government is your local office of the SBA or better know as the Small Business Administration. The SBA has list of contacts with every branch of the military and department of the Federal State and local Government that you may want to do business with and they can tell you how to get started.

The next group of hard working people that I am going to tell you about that will work hard for you for free is SCORE, a group of retired business people that will guide you and work with you for free to help you build your business from the ground up. The next government sponsored program that will come in handy is your local PTAC, a government funded service that has been created just to show you how to do business with the Federal Government, and State and Local Government.

I hope that this information is of use to. Thanks for Reading and until next time take care and God Bless from Pascal Mansell.

E-Government – The Singapore Experience

An African proverb admonishes us that: “Whenever the rhythm of the drum beats changes, you must change the dance movement accordingly.”

It is no longer privileged knowledge that Information and Communication Technology has launched the entire globe into what is now known as the e-world-meaning electronic world. Today Governments the world over are somersaulting to reinvent and re-engineer governance so as to be more effective, efficient and transparent in the provision of information, goods and services to their citizens electronically.

Fortunately Ghana has already started dancing to the tune of the technological music because government has laid the foundation for e-government by establishing the government of Ghana website popularly referred to as Ghana Portal which is being managed by the Information Services Department of the Ministry of Information in Accra. Government has also established the Ghana-India Kofi Anan IT Centre of Excellence and above all, Ghana has formulated an Information Communication Technology framework for accelerated development, being spearheaded by the Ministry of Communications.

Nevertheless, when it comes to the practicability, accessibility and usability of e-government services by citizens, Ghana still has some mountains to climb and some rivers and lagoons to wade through. It is against this backdrop that this writer deems it relevant to share the Singapore e-government experience with fellow Ghanaians. But, even before shedding some light on e-government strategies and implementations in Singapore, it may be necessary to explain what e-government is in the first place.

On Saturday July 31 this year, at the Johannesburg Airport in South Africa, this writer came across a group of Ghanaians on their way to Zimbabwe to take part in a book fair in that country. Then in a chart with one of them, where it was revealed that I was on my way from Singapore where I underwent a short training course in e-government, my interlocutor exclaimed:

‘Eeeee-Government!’ “What is that animal, too?” he virtually shouted unconsciously.

As a matter of fact, my friend confessed that, he was hearing for the first time the term e-government. Later when we parted company and he went to Zimbabwe and I was airborne to Ghana, I started debating with my inner self: “If this man, well-educated, living in the capital city of Accra, participating in an international event such as a book fair, has not yet heard of the term e-government until then, then what happens to the majority of uneducated and less fortunate brothers and sisters dwelling in deprived rural communities of the country?

Because we are living in a world of Knowledge Management (KM) and Experience Sharing, I cannot claim to be an expert in this field, but the little I know about e-government must be shared with others for the benefit of all who care to know; for the advancement of mankind and to the glory of the Divine Intelligence or the First Giver of knowledge itself.

The question is: What is E-government? The United Nations defines e-Government as “Permanent commitment by government to improve the relationship between the private citizen and the public sector through enhanced, cost-effective and efficient delivery of services, information and knowledge.” It went further to explain that there are five categories of measuring a country’s “e-gov” progress in terms of Web Presence. This includes: Emerging – Enhanced – Interactive – Transactional and Fully Integrated. All UN member states have been called upon and encouraged to embark on this e-government project and programme.

Accordingly the world body has a way of assessing the progress of each country in this regard. Significantly in the UN Report for this year on e-government globally, Singapore, a small Island City State of Land- Area of 697.1sq km with a population of 4.185 million souls is sharing the 2nd position with the mighty United States of America with Canada comfortably sitting on top of all.

How did Singapore make it to the top of e-government league table of the world? What strategies and policies were put in place; when and how did that country achieve such a technological feat over and above the super powers of this planet of economic inequalities?

Computerisation

Singapore set off on its e-government journey as far back as about 25 years ago. In 1981, Singapore embarked upon a computerization programme of the government machinery. It first established a National Computer Board and National Computerisation Plan. The Plan was to ensure a systematic growth of local IT industry; Development of IT manpower pool; Civil Service Computerisation Plan and the production of 850 IT Professionals.

National IT Plan

After the Computerisation programme, the Singapore government embarked upon what was referred to as the National IT Plan. The National IT Plan initiated what was known as the Beginnings of Computing Communications Convergence. It also constituted what was dubbed Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), which was basically aimed at bridging Government and industry. This plan took place in 1986 that is five years or so after the Computerisation Programme.

IT 2000 Blueprint for Intelligence Island

This Blueprint strategy that also started over five years after the
National IT Plan in 1992 was to effect what was called Flagship Projects on the Singapore Island. It had the objectives to create an electronic network linking all libraries in that country; secure infrastructure for e-commerce; Expert system for checking all building plans in the country and above all to establish Singapore ONE, that is, to create one network for everyone in Singapore. It was this strategy that shot Singapore up to the position of the world’s first nationwide broadband infrastructure nation in the e-world.

Infocomm 2001

The next step Singapore took, after attaining a nationwide broadband infrastructure, was to launch what was dubbed Infocomm 2001. This project was launched in year 2000 and aimed at developing Singapore into a vibrant and dynamic global information communication capital, with a thriving and prosperous e-Economy, and a pervasive and “Infocomm-savvy” e-Society and full telecom liberalisation in that country.

Connected Singapore

In 2003, Singapore government launched the final onslaughts on its e-government programme by establishing what was simply known as Connected Singapore. This strategy was to unleash the potential for the total realisation of all e-government possibilities through the Info comm project of the country.

Briefly, the preceding steps known in Singapore as the five (5) National Strategic ICT Plans give us an overview of the method Singapore adopted to become the 2nd e-Nation in the e-World today behind Canada. The Singapore government has a philosophy that: “Whatever services that can be delivered electronically must be delivered electronically” Period.

Another African proverb reminds us that, “If your tormentor who is running after you does not stop, you, too, must not stop running.” As long as Ghana remains a developing country, Ghanaians must not stop fighting to develop and progress.

In the first part of this article the definition of e-Government according to the United Nations was provided. Singapore government used the UN definition of e-Government as a guide, but simplified it for easy understanding by ordinary person in the street.

According to Singapore, e-Government is the use of technology to
enhance the access to and delivery of government services to benefit citizens and businesses. It pointed out that the beneficiaries of e- Government include the government itself, businesses and the citizens of the country concerned.

How did the Singapore Government use technology to enhance access to and delivery of government information and services to the people? E-Government Action Plan II (2003-2006) In order to achieve its stated goals the Singapore government formulated an action plan known as e-Government Action Plan II for the year 2003 to 2006.The vision of the Government was to be a leading e- Government to better serve the nation in the digital economy.

The objective of this Plan was to ensure “a Networked Government
that delivers accessible, integrated, value-added e-services to our customers; and helps bring citizens closer together”. A slogan was developed thus: e-Government- Delighting Customers, Connecting Citizens.

What are some of the services that the Singapore Government provides for its customers who are the citizens of the country? Even before we touch on some of the services provided online, shall we find out why Singapore government came to the realization that the beneficiaries of e-Government include Government, businesses and citizens?

It is important to note that within the scope of e-Government, there are several categories that fit into the broad definition of e-Government. For example, e-Government constitutes: A Government- to-Citizens (G2C); B- Government-to-Business (G2B); C- Government-to-Employees (G2E); and eventually D-Government to- Government (G2G).

G2C: Government-to-Citizens, according to experts, includes all the interactions between a government and its citizens that can take place electronically. The objective of G2C is to offer citizens faster, more responsive, more convenient and less complicated means to public services.

G2B: In the case of Government-to-Business, it refers to e-commerce in which government sells to businesses or provides them with services, as well as businesses selling products and services to government. Again the objective of G2B is to enable businesses to interact, transact and communicate with government online, with greater speed and convenience.

G2E: Government-to-Employees includes activities and services between government units and their employees. As the term implies, the objective of G2E is to develop and cultivate IT capabilities among government employees to deliver efficient and cost-effective services.

G2G: Interestingly, Government-to-Government seems to have dual significance. One, G2G is said to consist of activities between government and other Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the same government.

The other meaning of G2G is a situation in which Governments have to deal with their other counterpart governments of different countries. This second G2G in the opinion of experts is anchored on trust and interdependence, which allows for information sharing among governments on regional, sub-regional and international issues.

For example, the control of terrorism; the management of cross border diseases like SARS, which occurred in Asia some time ago or even HIV/AIDS. This G2G also has to do with common economic challenges as well as ethnic wars and conflicts problems facing West African States for instance. For Singapore government to achieve the enviable e-Government status through effective online services delivery to its citizens, certain strategies were again adopted:

I) E-Government Infrastructure

The government put in place a National Information Infrastructure as backbone for e-government services delivery. This strategy was christened Public Service Infrastructure (PSI) in Singapore.

Physical Infrastructure

Government itself provided Internet access points in convenient places such as public libraries, shopping malls, government offices, hospitals, subway stations and clubs and relevant public places for the citizens to use free of charge.

Technology Infrastructure

Here, the Government provided computers, servers, networks (broadband and wireless), mobile devices, smart cards as well as technology standards that are open and scalable such as Java, XML, Web services.

Authentication Infrastructure

Under this the government provided E-Government ID and Password for all its citizens. It made it easier for very citizen to know how to log online and access Government information and services.

II) E-Government Legislation &Policy

Having put in place the necessary infrastructure for the e-government services to the citizens, the next strategy the Singapore government adopted was the enactment of relevant rules and regulations and policies that govern the implementation of the programme.

Some of the major regulations were meant to safeguard privacy and information security; data protection, data privacy, computer misuse, legal recognition of electronic transactions, official control of cryptography, security audits and well as standards and certification of security practices. Singapore’s legislation and code of practice include Computer Misuse Act; Electronic Transaction Act, which was enacted in 1998, tried to define the rights and obligations of transaction parties, and also provided legal status on the use of electronic records and signature. The Government also provided data Protection Code.

III) E-Government Services

After putting in place ICT infrastructure and legislation and policy the government then developed a website called E-Citizen Portal. This website was to enable citizens to ask questions and receive answers. Specific electronic services deliveries are provided on this site.

Some of the services on this website include payment of taxes and fines; Issuance and renewal of driver’s licenses; Helping citizens find employment; National campaigns and awareness creation on social services such health and education; Introduction of Internet and IT training courses; e-learning and smart card in schools. So computer literacy started right from the primary school in Singapore etc.

In the poor and rural communities, the government provided free computers and Internet access points and posted officers who know how to operate the equipment to assist the illiterates to benefit from the online services.

In fact, in Singapore today some services like the issuing of Passports and Birth Certificates, you have to sit in the comfort of your home and fill the necessary forms and e-mail them to the appropriate authorities. Government will reward you for obtaining the services on line. Interestingly if you go personally to those offices for the services, you will pay penalty for going there personally. And after paying the penalty you will be directed to go and use a computer in a corner
there in the office still to apply for the documents you wanted.

In the case of Businesses, E-Tender was introduced in that any company that wanted to bid for government contracts can only do that through the Internet. Corporate taxes could only be filed electronically. Annual Reports and periodic business reports are all presented online. As in the case of E-Citizens Portal, there is also one-stop Portal for all government procurement opportunities with
over 8,000 trading partners. It is on this Portal that all corporate bodies do business with the government in Singapore. This is known as integrated e- Services.

This is the level of E-Government Services in Singapore. Is it any wonder that they are the 2nd e-nation after Canada in the e-world? Ghana, too, can do the same no matter how long it takes. What is important is for the Ghanaian IT experts to give the correct technological advice to the government of Ghana.

Increasing Local Government Revenue Through Institutional and Structural Reforms

Introduction

The local government units (LGUs) in the Philippines raise their own income from taxes, aside from a proportionate share of the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) that is appropriated by the national government. Section 129 of the Philippines Local Government Code of 1991 provides that local governments have the authority to raise their own revenue by collecting taxes on real property, transfer of real property ownership, printing and publication, franchise, profession, amusement or rest and recreation, on sand, gravel, and other quarrying activity, and on delivery truck or van.

Records of the Provincial Planning and Development Office (PPDO) of Bulacan showed that the province generated revenue amounting to P1.16 Billion for fiscal year 2004. Bulacan is ranked second among other provinces that have recorded the highest income. The rank is a slot higher from Bulacan’s position in 2003. Bulacan was also recognized as the third highest collector of Real Property Tax (RPT) among the provinces. Bulacan has consistently exercised its local taxing mandate to increase revenue collection.

In the published Commission on Audit (COA) Report (Bulletin Today, 29 Sept. 2007), Bulacan ranked first among the Provinces of the country with the Highest Gross Income at 1,717,600.00 pesos, and ranked Third with the Highest Net Income at 368,180,000.00 pesos for the year 2006.

Tax Collection Performance

Real Property Tax (RPT) collection has maintained consistently, on the average, between P90 Million to P154 Million from 1999 to the 2005. Except in 2002, when the Real Property Tax Information System (RPTIS) started to become fully operational and was perceived to have contributed to the collection of P140.7 Million in that same year.

Tax collection on printing and publication has been increasing from 1999 to 2005. Records of Provincial Assessment and Treasury Office (PATO) of the Province of Bulacan showed that the amount of collection quadrupled during the first semester of 2005 to P121.1 T from its 1999 value of P15.4 T. The average collection from 1999 to 2001 is P16.9 T. For years 2002 to 2004, average collection is P49.8 T; for the first semester of year 2005, the average is P64.07 T. Tax collection on franchise in 1999 has amounted to P3.4 M, as reflected by the records of PATO; but the same amount increased six times during the first semester of 2005 at P21.6 M. The average collection for 1999 to 2001 is 24 Million Pesos. For years 2002 to 2004, the average collection is 40.06 Million pesos. For the first semester of year 2005, the average is P21.6 M.

Fluctuating movements in the collection of professional tax from 1999 towards the first semester of 2005 are reflected in the records of PATO, from 1999 to 2001. The collection average is P1.11 M. For the years 2002 to 2004, the collection average is P1.57 M. And for the first semester of year 2005, the average is P1.32 M.

Collection of amusement tax from 1999 to 2005 was consistent as reflected by the records of PATO. From 1999 to 2001, the collection average was P2.56M. The same average was attained in years 2002 to 2004, although it decreased during the first quarter of 2005 with a total collection of only P2.4M. Tax amnesties were offered to resort owners by the PATO but the effect was minimal. Resort owners disagreed on why the nature of their businesses was classified as amusement. As of the latest inventory, a 119 resort are operating in the province, many of which refuse to comply with the tax policies implemented by the local government. Round table discussions were and are currently being held so that the province can reach compromise agreements with the owners of these resort businesses. Resorts are one of the most lucrative businesses in Bulacan, providing a more extensive revenue base for the government.

The collection of annual tax on delivery van and trucks from 1999 to first semester of 2005 increased significantly as shown by the records of the PATO. The collection average is P668, 000 from 1999 to 2001; from 2002 to 2004, the average is P801, 000; during the first semester of 2005, the average is P890, 000. It has satisfactorily improved during the seven years period in review.

Tax collection average on the transfer of real property ownership from 1999 to 2001 is tagged at P333.3 M. The average for years 2002 to 2004 is P20.6 M. And the average for the first semester of 2005 is at P30.8 M. The collection for transfer tax on real property has fluctuated during the seven-year period in review.


Institutional and Organizational Interventions

The laudable tax collection performance of the province of Bulacan from 1994 to 2004 could well be the result of a serious implementation of institutional and organizational programs that were planned, adopted, and established one after the other, by the present political leadership; or it could be result of a convergence of such programs that intervened in the usual operations of the local government between 1996 and 2003.

The programs (or interventions) which perceived to have contributed to the positive outcome of tax collection in Bulacan are: • The Performance Management System (PMS)

The Performance Management System (PMS) is a system of monitoring and evaluating the quality and performance of all provincial government offices for judging system-level efficiency and effectiveness. It was first implemented in the province of Bulacan in 2002 under the supervision the Provincial Planning and Development office (PPDO); however, it became fully operational only in the first quarter of 2003 when a monitoring team assigned to conduct consultations and monitoring activities was created.

The PMS implemented by the Organization, Monitoring and System Development Division (OMSD) of the office of the Provincial Administration (OPA). Based on provisions of the Local Government Code of 1991, the Provincial Administrator (PA) has the power to implement management and administration-related programs. The mandate of the PA has been made more effective by the PA’s Office strategic position in relation to all offices of provincial government (ANNEX A). The organizational structure of the provincial government has enabled the PA to control and monitor the activities of every department, making the PMS program an intervention at the institution level rather than at the organization-level.

The first component of the PMS program of the provincial government of Bulacan is the derivation of key result areas (KRA) and performance indicators (PI) in six (6) service sectors. The service sectors are: Economic Development, Social Development, Environment and Peace and Order, Infrastructure Development, and Development Administration. PATO is grouped under the last sectors. The KRAs are the primary products or services desired and are the focus of the performance process. The KRAs are considered “SMART” (specific, measurable, acceptable, realistic to achieve, and time-bounded with the deadline) goals. The PIs are measures that provide information to evaluate the result of what have been accomplished. They are service standards expressed in terms of quantity of services provided, quality or services provided, and cost of services provided that have to be accomplished in a given period of time. Both KRA and PI of PATO are endogenous that is, internally generated or tailored to its needs.

The PMS of the PATO consists of six (6) KRAs and fourteen (14) PIs. The six KRAs are increase revenue, improved treasury system, operational financial management information system (FMIS), operational Real Property Tax Information System (RPTIS) of which complete and updated tax maps and improved assessment systems are to be provided.

Increased revenue is measured in terms of the number of delinquent taxpayers that are identified in municipalities, the number of demand letters that are sent to delinquent taxpayers, and the number of delinquent taxpayers who paid taxes after receiving the demand letters.

Improved treasury system is being measured in terms of the number of minutes per order of payment computed and prepared for simple transfer and estate taxes with extra judicial settlement, the number of financial transactions processed, and the number of official receipt prepared and issued by the department.

An operating FMIS is measured by the response time of employees (in minutes) in the preparation of official receipt, reports on collection and deposits, and record update. Performance on RPTIS is measured in terms of the response time in preparation tax declaration, property holding and certifications, such as certificate (with improvement or without of improvement) of real property.

An operating RPTIS is measured by the number of tax declaration and certification issued. Completed and updated tax maps are measured in the terms of the number of section and barangay index maps complete and updated. The Tax Mapping Division (TMD) of the Assessment Unit (AU) of the PATO is responsible for this activity. Response time on the processing of simple transfer, subdivision, reclassifications and classifications, re-assessment, and new declarations are the indicators of an improved assessment system.

The derivation of KRAs and PIs completed the first component of the PMS and was called the The Performance Planning for the Performance Management System of PATO.

The second component of the PMS program is performance appraisal. This is a system of monitoring ha been implemented in order to progress on performance and ensure that the performance standards are met. This starts when the PATO supervisors (Division Chiefs) observe and formulate measure to tract activities within their department.

The next stage is feedback wherein supervisors give their Head of Office timely and feasible information relevant to how well results are being achieved. The division chiefs of the PATO are participative in this stage. They provide feedback reports frequently during Division Chiefs meetings and staff meetings.

The last stage in the second component of the PMS program is the conduct of performance review and is done after quarterly accomplishment reports are submitted by the PATO Head of Office (Provincial Treasurer) to the PA. This Report is called the Department’s Performance Progress Report (DPPR), which is detailed document describing the program, project, and the activities of the department under the six KRAs with standard targets and accomplished measure of quantity, quality, cost, and response time. The reporting is usually followed by monitoring schedules conducted by management auditors who would go down the offices and ranks of the departments to further document results, standards of performance, and progress towards achieving these results. Moreover, the auditors give impressions on how well results were achieved, suggestion on how to improve performance, and guidelines to follow their suggestions.

The third and last component of the PMS program is the rewarding of exemplary performance. This is usually held twice a year (mid-year and year-end) During the conduct of Assessment and Planning Workshop, when the whole Provincial Government represented by heads of all is thirty (30) departments is seven (7) district hospital meet outside of the province. Besides the rewarding, the workshop becomes a forum for assessing programs and projects implemented by department hospital officers in the previous year and for the discussing their targets for the following year in the presence of the Provincial Governor of Bulacan. 2003 Restructuring Program

One major change brought about by the Restructuring Program of 2003 in the Provincial Government of Bulacan was the merging of the Provincial Assessment and Provincial Treasury departments into one department. The objective of the restructuring is to synchronize the activities previously done separately by each department in order to attain one specific goal, which to increase revenue from real property taxes. With the new structure, real property tax assessment and collection are simultaneously analyzed and processed so that errors in assessment and valuation could be minimized. These errors usually arise from inaccurate valuation of the actual usage of real property.

The reorganization of 2003 is also resulted in the creation of a Tax Mapping Division responsible for tax mapping activities under the Provincial Assessor. Tax mapping begins with “one-site” inspection by tax mappers of real property units to validate the tax declaration of real property owners, in terms of actual use and location, and ends with the plotting of the parcels of land on drawn section maps.

The reorganization of 2003 also reduced the number of the total workforce under the PATO, from sixty-nine (69) to fifty-four (54). The current PATO workforce includes treasury and assessment officers, collection and assessment clerks, cashier, records officers, tax mappers, draftsmen, and administrative staff. The reorganization reduced the expenditures of the department on personal salaries. The merging of assessment and treasury activities required the appointment of two (2) Assistant Department Heads, one to oversee the entire assessment function and the other, the entire collection function (Annex B).


Management Information Systems

The provincial government initiated the development and installation of computer-based information system to support efforts in verifications, mapping, and update of real property database as well as for proper assessment, valuation, and speedy collection of taxes from rightful owners.1. Real Property Tax Information System (RPTIS)

The Real Property Tax Information System (RPTIS) is designed to achieve accurate and updated records of real properties for the entire province. Underlying principle of the RPTIS is increasing efficiency of services through use information technology. This information holds a complete database of real properties in all 22 municipalities and two component cities of Bulacan, properly classified as to use, location, and ownership.

The computerization of the assessment process through RPTIS led to discovery of errors in valuation of property and taxation. The data on ownership and actual use of property enabled employees to do away with archival search on records of real properties, except in rare cases. Using assigned Property Index Number (PIN) on real properties, employees could readily access tax declaration certificates from the computer terminals. This ready access minimized instances when employees computed either lower or higher assessment valuation than what was actually acceptable, because most employees, before the RPTIS was installed based valuations on archival records which were then in disarray.

The RPTIS enabled the assessment unit to provide property owners with various assessment documents in less response time. A certified true copy of tax declarations, if computer generated, will be provided within 20-25 minutes, or certificates of no improvement/ with improvement within 10 minutes. Because of this assessment unit was able to serve more clients.2. Geographic Information System (GIS)

The Geographic Information System (GIS) was tied up the RPTIS where the record database is directly linked to the digital map. This is done with the use of tax maps generated through inspection of properties with tax mappers. Parcels of land are plotted on section maps that are maintained and updated by the Assessment Unit. Section maps are then scanned for geo-referencing refers to the process of scaling, rotating, translating, and de-skewing image to match a particular size and position. Screen digitization is the conversion of an image from printed paper, film, or other media formats to an electronic format where the object its represented as either black and white dots, color, grayscale pixels, or 1’s and 0’s. The GIS supported RPTIS to serves to check and to reconcile the RPTIS database through its land use color-coding scheme and the actual satellite-based graphic image. Through the GIS, undeclared properties are precisely identified. 3. Financial Management Information System (FMIS)

The FMIS enables collection unit of the PATO to issue official receipts and to prepare reports in less response time. It has three modules that guide the operations of the Provincial Accounting Office (Accounting), Provincial Budget Office (PBO), and PATO. The FMIS links all financial operation of the PATO with the other two offices. For example, in releasing of financial aids, the PATO can trace if assistance was ready for release after the assignment of obligation. This activity has help employees of PATO to concentrate on revenue generating activities rather than revenue reducing activities, such as giving of aids, by lessening the time employees spend on activities other than tax generation. While the FMIS supports the Revenue Operation Divisions (ROD), employees of the Cash Receipt and Disbursement Division (CRDD) benefit most from the FMIS.

The target response time of the FMIS process of each official receipt – three (3) minutes or less; collection and deposit report preparation – eight (8) minutes or less; collection report of liquidating officer – eight (8) minutes or less; and each record updated – five minutes or less.

Information and Education Campaign and other Strategies

Although the use of information management system (MIS) in real property tax administration significantly improved the financial standing of the provincial government, collection of real property tax remains a problematic area in revenue generation because of the following issues and concerns:1. Idle lands are yet to be identified 2. Real property units are declared in names and multiple claimants 3. Locating unknown owners and undeclared properties 4. Real properties covered by land reform which ownership were transferred to farmer beneficiaries are yet declared for taxation purposes; and 5. In appraisal and assessment, obsolete classification of lots as per actual use (e.g., commercial but declared as residential).

In recognition of the above issues, the provincial government of Bulacan implemented the following strategies:

A. Massive Tax Information and Education Campaign through the following methods:1. Orientation / Workshop for Homeowner’s Association Officers and members on provincial taxes; 2. Tax caravan (motorcades) conducted quarterly; 3. Public Address System in subdivisions and barangays;4. Tax “Balitaan” in subdivisions and barangays wherein problems on assessment and payment are discussed;5. Distribution of “comics” (reading material) and flyers to property owners in 22 municipalities and 2 component cities of the province.6. Installation of billboards in 22 municipalities and 2 component cities; and7. Streamers on conspicuous places in 22 municipalities and two component cities.

B. House – to house survey in subdivisions to update real property records;

C. Establishment of Real Property Assessment and Tax payment Assistance Centers in subdivisions and barangays were tax payers can directly pay taxes;

D. Consultation with all 119 subdivision developers;

E. Submission of a certified list of Delinquent Taxpayers in municipalities by the Municipal Treasurers to the PATO and Issuance of Demand Letters by the Provincial Legal Officer to demand payment ( in 2004, 430demand letters in which 11,380);

F. Implementation of “BUWIS” Award and giving of incentives to barangays in recognition of RPT collection performance.

In the collection of professional tax, PATO coordinated with the DepEd Divisions Office to increase collection from public and private school teachers. The same method was done in


Shaping Culture, Values and Attitudes

David (2003) posited that there are several factors that affect “achievement of successful outcomes” in an organization. On of which is culture, which affects organizational performance in the same way as it affects the behavior of employees. This can be illustrated in values exhibited by employees in different situations. Gorospe (n.d.) said that Filipino values are ambivalent, and can assume either a negative or positive form. When an employee says “bahala na,” it could mean either taking a risk in i9nspite of the difficulties hoping to emerge successful in the end, or doing nothing because of a belief in a pre-determined fate. These cultural values should not be ignored as it influences local government performance.

If culture is difficult to change, then the effects of institutional or organizational intervention implemented in a particular organization are readily felt. Berkdol (n.d.) declared however,”- Although culture resist change, they are constantly changing.” With positive results experienced by the provincial government of Bulacan associated with the inventions in policy, structure, system, and Human resources, four (4) PATO organizational values were observed by the author to have been affected significantly.

First, the institutionalization performance planning through the PMS programmed reduced the previous practice of employees to work without target goals. In the case of revenue collection, employees become more motivated to perform their assigned task because such task included objectives that were clearly stated and determined beforehand. The inefficiencies associated with the “aimless” style of working and the “fatalism” culture of the employees toned down by performance planning.

Second, the spirit of cooperation was further strengthened with the reorganization program in 2003. Because the boundaries of work assignment were clearly defined; overlapping of functions between the Assessment and Treasury were reduced. The divisions and units were structured for specific purposes and work mandates.

Third, consultation as “social value for seeking and encouraging others opinion”(De Leon n.d, p.15) was continuously practiced. Division’s chief began to respect and value their co-workers’ and subordinates opinion when the department needs to solve issues concerning its operation. With the institutionalization of performance planning, employees of PAT O we more involved and frequently consulted in every project or activity that the department is about to undertake. The activity also provided the opportunity for the employees to ventilate ill feelings or problems associated with their workFourth, “trial and error” or guesswork was reduced. Guesswork refers to ‘ working without any clear strategy or (sic) structured procedure ” (De Leon, n.d., p. 17). With the enactment of the Provincial Revenue Code, an incremental policy reform, guidelines on collection of provincial taxes were properly laid down and followed. This has led to the institutionalization of a system and procedure in tax collection. Moreover, the MIS in the assessment records provided support to the assessment officers, enabling them to determine more accurately the obligations of taxpayers and to prevent irregular arrangements or “areglo” (De Leon n.d., p18) in the enforcement of tax collection. Although values affect employee attitude and motivation, Chowdhury and Amin (2001) believe that values and attitudes are different can be measured when formed in evaluative statements. Bazler and Smith, on he other hand define attitude as reaction towards five specific dimensions of job. (Chowdhury and Amin, 2001). These five dimensions are “work satisfaction,” “pay satisfaction,” “supervision satisfaction,” with promotion,”and “Co-worker’s satisfaction.” In conducting a survey among the employees of PATO, the level of satisfaction of the employees was gauged using of four dimensions of job, excluding” satisfaction with the promotions.” Of the 54 survey questionnaires distributed, 46 responded and returned questionnaires were used in the satisfaction analysis. The following are the results of the survey: Work satisfaction garnered satisfactory rating ranging from 70-75%Pay satisfaction garnered poor rating ranging from 37-50 %Supervision satisfaction garnered satisfactory rating ranging from 79-83 % Co-workers satisfaction garnered satisfactory rating of 87 % Overall, satisfactory rating of 74 % was attained.The satisfaction was derived by getting the difference between sum of the “Strongly Agree” (SA) and “Agree” (A) percentage responses and sum of “Strongly Disagree” (SD” and “Disagree” (D) percentage responses of the Likert scale.

Post Institutional and Organizational Concerns

The main benefit of MIS when employed in revenue-generating government offices is the reduction of certain irregularities. The GIS-supported RPTIS was mainly designed to minimize income lost from erroneous valuation and assessment of real properties. The absence of an accurate and updated database on real properly sometimes provide the opportunity for employees to present over-or under valued assessments to taxpayers as a way to augment their low salaries. The information systems installed at the provincial government of Bulacan prevent the practice called “areglo” (Spanish) that arises from the residual powers of employees obtained from inaccurate database. Another benefit derived from MIS is the minimization of time wastage, prompting employees to serve more clients.The MIS, however, entails a huge amount of funding to keep it going. In the case of GIS, radioscope are also needed to acquire graphical satellite-base imagery. Large capital layout is required, and chief executives sometimes go to extent of lobbying with higher authorities in order to get the approval for the release of funds. At this point, initiatives at the operational level are difficult to proceed and it demand persuasive-skills of techno-bureaucrats who wish for the implement of their MIS projects. Sustaining the momentum of the MIS becomes an issue because of the expected change in leadership in near future.Organizational restructuring depends on the outcome desired. It does not have a standard prescription. In the provincial government of Bulacan, the initiative to focus on real properly tax collection p[prompted the PATO to design an organizational chart that can increase the assessment capabilities of the workforce. The office of the Provincial assessor was previously a separate department but it is now merged with Treasury. Moreover, a Tax Mapping Division was created to perform activities require by the GIS-supported RPTIS.Overstaffing is a disadvantage to the productivity of an organization Because it breeds inefficiency. By abolishing fifteen positions in the PATO, the spent for managing and supervising employees has been reduced. However, difficulties in the implementation of a major organization program at the provincial government of Bulacan because the laid-off workers have to be given retirement or separation options before the organization could be totally streamlined. Reorganization cannot be completed if employees’ right and privileges were ignored.The performance Management System (PMS) is rendered ineffective if the targeted clients of the program are not serious about it. While the performance standard can be replicated in the other LGUs the successful implementation of the program highly depends on the employees’ acceptance. Management auditors play an important role in helping decision-makers to monitor and assess the PMS through feedback mechanisms. It is important that chief executives and the political leadership be informed of the “honest” results of the audit process. In this manner, the real or actual scenario of managerial, staff, and rank-and-life performance is reflected.Effective mainstreaming of performance management can be attained by assigning the responsibility to a particular office for the purpose of control over the other offices. In the provincial government of Bulacan, the Provincial Administrator’s Office is responsible for the implementing the PMS in all offices of the LGU. Performance management can be more effective if it is implemented at the institutional level than at the organization level. The demand for, and degree of acceptance of, the PMS is greater if all departments were involved in the program.So far the interventions done in the province of Bulacan have been effective in increasing tax collection. Dependency of the provincial government on the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) has been gradually reduced each year. Improvements in the collection of the provincial taxes, except from the amusement tax and some unrealized income from real property and transfer. The LGU has planned another intervention to compel resort owner in paying the required amusement taxes. The campaign for the real property tax should be continually approached from both government and citizen. The organizational intervention s could not be solely relied upon to increase real property collection unless information coming from the citizens themselves are obtained.Institutional intervention in the provincial government Bulacan provide legislative support to the tax initiatives of the Governor. The Provincial Revenue Code provides a basis for the implementation of the tax program in Bulacan, although it was not necessarily meant for the compliance of the provincial ordinance. Tax amnesties are regularly given to encourage taxpayers to meet their obligation and these are usually supported by a Resolution from the Local Legislative Council. Tax compromise could be reached with the owners of resort business and the possibility is high with the intervention of the Local Legislative Council in the offering of amnesties.The satisfaction level of employees in their respective work situation determines their productivity level. With the result s of the survey, it is clear that the interventions done the policy, structure, and system of the PATO produced agreeable level of satisfaction of employees, particularly in terms of work, supervision, and co-worker’s satisfaction. Addressing the low income of its employees, the provincial government of Bulacan has implemented a P1,000.00 increase in salary in compliance with the order of the Office of the President. Although insignificant, the provincial leaders hope that the increase could augment the level of work satisfaction of their employees. Institutional and organizational interventions policy, structure, and system can contribute to a desire outcome in revenue generation but should be augmented by an intervention on human resources development, so that organizational capability can be further improved. Interventions on policy, structure and system can be motivate employees to work harder but does not be effective if the economic aspect of their job is not fully attended.Finally, aside from the above-mentioned issues and lesson learned, the observations obtained from the organizational transformation experiences of the provincial government of Bulacan also show that positive changes in the administrative culture of the workforce can be attained by reinforcing values of performance within the context of work.


References

Admin, M N and Chowdhury M S (2001). Relative Importance of Employee Values, Attitudes and Leadership Behavior in Employee Motivation: An Empirical Investigation. Miami University. USA. Retrieved July 2005 form [http://sba.muohio.edu/abs/2001/Quebec/Chowhury.pdf]

Barkdoll, G L (nd). Individual Personality and Organizational Culture OR “Let’s Change This Place So I Feel More Comfortable”. University of Toronto, Canada. Retrieved July 2005 form [http://leo.oise.utoronto.ca/~vsvede/culture.htm]

Bulacan, Provincial Government of. Retrieved February 2006 from http://bulacan.gov.ph

De leon, C and Han, S (n.d.). Management and Culture in the Philippines. BRC papers on Cross-Cultural Management. HongKong Baptist University, HongKong. Retrieved July 2005 from [http://net2.hkbu.edu.hk/~brc/CCMP200202PDF]

Provincial Government of Bulacan (2003). Official reorganization documents of the offices of the provincial governments. Malolos City, Bulacan, Philippines: Provincial Human Resource and Management Office (PHRMO)

Provincial Government of Bulacan (2003). Official reorganization documents on the mandates of the office of the provincial governments. Malolos City, Bulacan, Philippines: Provincial Human Resource and Management Office (PHRMO).

Provincial Government of Bulacan (2002). Performance Ordinance No. C-002 dated 16 December 1996, Known as ” An Ordinance Enacting the Provincial Revenue Code of Bulacan and for other Purposes.” Malolos City, Bulacan, Philippines: Provincial Planning and Development Office (PPDO)

Republic of the Philippines. The Local Government Code of 1991 (R.A. 7160).

Sosmena, G C, Guillermo, M J and Sapuay, S E (2004). A Handbook on Measuring Local Government Performance. Pasay City, Philippines: Local Government Development Foundation (LOGODEF).

Gorospe, V R (SJ) (2005). Understanding the Filipino Value System. Chapter VI. Washington, D.C.: Council for Research and Values in Philosophy. Retrieved July 2005 from [http://www.crvp.org/book/Series03/III-7/chapter] vi.htm

Wilson, David (2003). Promoting Institutional and Development. United Kingdom: Department for International Development (DFID).

Copyright @ 2007

State and Local Pension Accounting

Being a government employee comes with benefits that are far surpassed by the cons of being under constant regulatory and budget scrutiny. Advancement and pay increases are typically pre-defined and are turned into a waiting game rather than a goal to be reached to effort and skill. Speed and quality of resources can be delayed and impaired by budget shortfalls and cuts. What seems to make a government employee career worth-while is the pension policy which after a pre-defined period of service, provides remaining life income and benefits equal in value ranging from a percent based up to and including full final year total income. Employees contribute percentages of incomes to pension pools managed by outside organizations, which when combined with government contributions are designed to cover future benefit obligations using market growth rates and contributions. The 2008-2009 economic decline resulted in a near flat decade of asset growth, highlighted the serious under-funding through contributions and a unsustainable reliance on market growth to meet pension obligations.

According to a 2010 report by the Pew Center on the status of state pension obligations, the gap between pension assets and liabilities is in excess of one trillion and represents a massive long term liability and deficit that until recently where not reported on state and local balance sheets. Prior to June 15th, 2013 the Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) did not require state and local governments to report their long time pension obligations on balance sheets, contrary to the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) which requires pension obligations to be reported both short and long term liabilities. Similar to the private sector who are forced to expense pension accrual shortfalls, current due pension obligations that were short funded fall upon the state and local taxpayers who are forced to divert the tax funds from vital services and resources to non-productive pension obligations.

Due to pressure from politicians, bondholders, taxpayers, government workers and all those who had a vested interest in state and local governments, the GASB issued statements designed to better reflect existing benefit liabilities on GASB balance sheets. On June 25th, 2012 the GASB approved Statement No. 67, Financial Reporting for Pension Plans and Statement No. 68, Accounting and Financial Reporting for Pensions which are to be placed into effect on all Financial Statements for fiscal years starting on June 15th, 2013 require reporting entities to disclose their net pension liability which represents the difference between the total pension liabilities and the assets available for funding.

Outside the balance sheet, the GASB also requires to provide additional information on pensions through the Notes to Financial Statements. Required information is to include “the portion of the actuarial present value of projected benefit payments to be provided through the pension plan to current active and inactive plan members that is attributed to those members’ past periods of service (the total pension liability), the pension plan’s fiduciary net position, the net pension liability, and the pension plan’s fiduciary net position as a percentage of the total pension liability.” Furthermore reporting entities are reporting to list significant assumptions which include assumptions of estimated inflation, salary increases, benefit requirements, cost of living adjustments, discount rates and any other assumptions vital to formulating projected pension obligations.

With the recently enacted changes in GASB pension accounting, reporting entities will have to accumulate and report the most recent ten years of employer and non-employer obligations and include the sources of changes in the net pension liability and components of the liability and related ratios. All plan obligations that are determined through actuary estimates will be required to include the most recent ten years of “actuarially determined contribution, contributions to the pension plan and any significant methods and assumptions used in calculating the actuarially determined contributions.”

GASB Chairman Robert Attmore in a statement said “”The new standards will improve the way state and local governments report their pension liabilities and expenses, resulting in a more faithful representation of the full impact of these obligations” and AICPA further commented through a statement released by AICPA President and CEO Barry Melancon stating “The new GASB standards will benefit users of these financial statements, as well as taxpayers, since state and local governments for the first time will have to report unfunded pension liabilities in their balance sheets, providing a clearer view of pension obligations.”

GASB Statement No. 67 and 68 have finally caught up and addressed the serious pension obligation shortfalls which for the first time are now reflective on governmental balance sheets. No longer are pension liabilities capable of being ignored and will allow all stakeholders with these governmental entities to create accountability and force legislators to work in a bipartisan manner to resolve the now very transparent pending pension implosion.

Works Cited

1. GASB. GASB vote places unfunded pension liabilities on government balance sheets. 15 June 2012. 17 July 2013.
2. GASB. Summary of Statement No. 67 Finacial Reporting for Pensions. 12 June 2013. 17 July 2013.

Find Government Grants to Cope With Your Bills

Read the steps below, you can get a good perception on what to expect when buying some products and where to start researching to find your own grants.

Step1
Hospital bills: Talk to the patient advocate, they will help find any funds that are available through the hospital. Also check with Family Services to determine if your bill can be paid with emergency Medicaid funds through County Assistance. Low income families may be eligible for direct state assistance programs while others may qualify for clinics that are paid by a sliding fee scale. Sliding fees are determined by how much a family can afford to pay for a service, and is usually very small. To find out more about similar programs contact your local health department. Current bills may be eligible for reduction. Hint: It is best to do your research before paying any of your bill, after paying a portion of the bill your resources are usually cut in half.

Step2
Before going any further, you must understand there is not grant labeled specifically to pay off debts and credit cards. If you were to go into a government office and ask for such a grant you will find yourself quickly out in the cold. This is where I believe many advertisements’ mislead. You must look at your credit card’s individual expenditures to qualify purchases not the actual bill itself.

Step3
Research Look at the steps below to get ideas was to look for the funds you want. Most programs that are related to this topic are state and county ran, so it would be impossible to state specific contact information in this article for everyone. I you choose to purchase a list of information about your specific interest or residential area make sure to read the small prints. You will find lists that will be anywhere from $5 to $80, but they are usually the same lists.

Step4
Qualifying Get out your social security card, birth certificate, tax papers for the past three years, and papers on thing you own like a house or car. You will also need the same information on all the people that resides in your household, regardless of age or relation (unless they pay rent). If they pay rent you will have to include the rent payments as income.

Step5
Shopping: Regular Shopping expenditures: While you will not find grants or assistance programs that will pay for daisy dukes (unless it is a uniform requirement), you may qualify for funds to pay for uniforms for work through the local career center or school through family services. A person who is disabled who is looking to find work may also find free money to get a whole new wardrobe to change professions with programs such as the Vocational Rehabilitation program. While they probably will not pay off a bill, participating in programs like the salvation army will give you clothes if you meet income guide lines to prevent debt.

Step6
Debt due to education: It is fairly well known that there are many government programs to setup to help the disadvantage, but they are also programs to help the economy find the next “leader and doctors” of tomorrow. For government programs going to your college financial adviser may be all that you need, but to find heavy private grants you may need to research through the internet and library.

Step7
Children Dept due to dependent expenses: While most families’ daycare expenses are deducted from taxable income every year, families that are below 130% above poverty level may be eligible for additional assistance. Look for more information at your local family services or Economic Development Center for information for other funds with adoption, buying school supplies, and other necessities.

Step8
Debt due to daily living expenses: “Nine hundred dollars a month for the rest of your life to pay off any bills” is the line that is usually used. This is the information I believe that is stretched a little too far in advertisements. When a program states this, they are usually talking about social security or a disability check that helps people that are disabled and not able to earn more than $900 a month. The information given is simply to your local social security office.

Finding and Bidding on State and Local Government Contracts and RFPs

State and local government bids and RFPs are notoriously difficult to locate. Unlike the federal government, which conducts most purchasing through GSA schedules or FedBizOpps.gov, state and local bids are located in a great number of sources throughout the internet — on government webpages, public works pages, 3rd party contracted websites, and newspaper classifieds.

To locate these bids, you may want to keep an eye on newspaper classifieds or the websites of specific government entities near you. If your business operates only in North Dakota, this is easy and takes less than an hour a day. However, if your business operates in a larger state, across multiple states, or if you don’t have an hour per day to spend, a service like BidPrime.com is a cost and time-effective solution to reduce the burden of locating these valuable and often overlooked opportunities.

So I’ve identified a qualified lead, but what now? First, verify the qualifications and deadlines related to the bid in the bid document or request for proposal.

What to look out for:

  • Ensure that your company qualifies for the bid. Some bids are set-aside for minority, woman, or veteran-owned businesses.
  • Look for any listed pre-bid conferences and take note of any mandatory ones.
  • Do you need to be a registered vendor to place a bid?

After verifying these initial qualifications, it’s wise to keep track of a entity’s website where the bid was posted to view any addendums or amendments. Some entities will notify you of changes if you have expressed interest in the bid already. Checking on this website every few days in the bid process might be wise.

Some entities will post sign-in sheets for a pre-bid conference or have a utility to view past awards. This information can be used as valuable intelligence to develop a competitive bid. If the entity does not post this information online, you may sometimes request it from the agency procurement officer. This contact should be your main point of contact for any questions related to the bid, the bid document, specifications, addenda, and amendments. This information should be in the bid document or the website; however, if you cannot find this information, BidPrime’s tech support team may be able to help assist you.

Your proposal is your sales pitch for your company. Ensure that you are thorough and that you meet requirements and give a competitive yet profitable bid. Listing why you are the best candidate is an effective route too, as sometimes contacts are not awarded to the lowest bidder.

There are many resources on the web for filling out response templates that will be for another post. The most valuable resource for questions of this sort is your local Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC).

Finally, it is important to remember that companies often lose more government contracts than they win.

Crisis: How Local Government Can Use Social Media in Emergencies

Hurricane Sandy’s path of destruction affected 24 states, and cost the U.S a total of $65 billion in damages. Nicknamed “Superstorm Sandy,” the hurricane quickly became the most cataclysmic hurricane of 2012. For example in many northeast cities, public transportation was shut down, International airport suspended flights, and all major highways were closed during the hurricane.

Catastrophes like Hurricane Sandy pose a unique challenge for government contact centers. Every day local government have a duty to provide citizens with factual information and critical answers about City services, but when the City is facing a crisis, the importance of that information is magnified. Citizens look to the City for guidance, and we provide it. One of the most efficient ways to do this is through the social media channels.

Here are a few lessons learned from many Cities based on their experience:

Prepare Ahead of Time

Like the hurricane itself, the best way to handle an emergency is to prepare for it ahead of time. During Hurricane Sandy this meant, using City resources and collecting data before the panic, and staying up to date on the storm’s progress.

Have a Practice in Place

In order to be effective during a crisis Cities should have a strategy in place. Social media strategies are not born over night, and they certainly are not created on-the-fly during emergencies. Strategies take time and practice to develop. Know your City Administration’s goals, identity, objectives, and customers before jumping into an all around high-risk situation.

Keep Your Message Consistent

When people are panicked there tends to be a lot of miscommunication and inaccurate information circulating. As a source of data and a connection to City services, you can’t risk pumping out false information. False information during times of crisis can lead to people getting hurt. Refrain from reposting information from unknown sources.

Stay Calm

It is easy to get overwhelmed during a crisis, especially when you have an influx of people contacting the City and reporting the same issues. However panicking doesn’t help anyone. Find effective ways to save time, don’t let customers get lost in the shuffle, and treat everyone with care and consideration. Customer service should not get lost during these moments, it should shine!

Local government social media platforms were crucial in handling Hurricane Sandy and helped extended their citizen communications outreach. Based on research, during the storm a number of Cities saw their followers nearly doubled, demonstrating how citizens were collecting information, and connecting with the government.

People use the internet to connect on social media not just to search for information. Local government should provide people with a single, real-time, and responsive platform to receive the information that they needed most in order to guarantee their safety.