Running IT right

Corporate governance and government accountability are twin buzzwords that have left ranking decision makers walking on eggshells.

Among those addressing this trend is Cognos Systems Inc. and its newest business intelligence (BI) tools: Government Performance Review and its matching private sector version, Corporate Performance Review.

The Cognos software is designed for organizations that require tools to make decisions based on future data, historic results and ongoing performance. Rob Ashe, president and COO of Ottawa-based Cognos, says performance management tools also dictate more financial transparency — reflecting both a growing regulatory environment and a rising demand for accountability.

CPM and GPM are based on a broader, more holistic approach to examining critical indicators that drive performance and affect financial results. The goal is to bring financial and senior-level managers closer to the operation of the organization, says Ashe.

“Government Performance Management continues to become more important as accountability becomes that much more critical for government bodies,” added Sean Reid, spokesperson for Cognos. “So they need to understand what is going on in their organization and they need to be able to share that information easily with their constituents and stakeholders.”

The public sector in both the U.S. and Canada forms a major segment of the 22,000 clients using Cognos BI tools. The list of Canadian clients includes the City of London, the City of Ottawa, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada and Ontario’s Ministry of Justice.

Especially in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, says Ashe, governments realize a need to share data more efficiently, improve accountability and tackle the same themes that are becoming more pervasive in the corporate world.

A Cognos white paper, entitled How Smart Governments Win with Business Intelligence, is available by subscription at, and details five public sector clients, including NASA, and how BI addresses accountability and performance management, e-government, public safety and HR management within those organizations.

Elsewhere, Panorama Business Views Inc. is a Toronto-based software developer geared exclusively to GPM and CPM. Clients in the U.S. include the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Department of Energy, the State of Illinois and the Texas State Auditor’s Office. Canadian customers include the Department of National Defence.

PBViews, founded in 1993, also capitalizes on the U.S. Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA). The legislation was enacted by Congress to promote a new focus on improving program performance and to provide greater accountability for results within the U.S. federal government.

Managers expect comprehensive performance management systems to support their efforts to manage their programs in ways that maximize performance, minimize costs and get results.

“Government Performance Management is no longer an option for today’s governments; it’s more of a necessity,” said Mike Etzinger, PB Views product manager. (It) is the key to outperforming citizens’ expectations through more effective decision making and efficient management performance.”

PB Views is hosting free seminars around North America on Performance Management in Government. For more, check

For its part, Cognos provides in-depth seminars and workshops, including online videos. These can be accessed at A separate series on public safety using the Cognos-Guiliani Solution for Accountable Government can be found at

Marlene Orton is an Ottawa-based journalist specializing in technology issues.

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