Department of Budget and Management turns to the cloud for transparency and efficiency in government

Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has turned to the cloud, via Microsoft Azure.

Having earlier launched an online service for submitting budget proposals and reports, DBM encountered numerous performance issues with its previous cloud platform. This often necessitated agency representatives to physically submit information to DBM, which defeated the purpose of going online. The agency saw tremendous performance improvements after migrating critical applications to Microsoft Azure, which resulted in a successful modernization through a simplified and more efficient budgeting process.

“Microsoft Azure has enhanced the efficiency of national government budgeting by improving the budget call process and by simplifying the steps involved for agencies.” – Undersecretary Richard Moya, Department of Budget and Management, Chief Information Officer

Business needs

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is the agency responsible for approving and disbursing the appropriations of national government agencies in the Philippines. Previously relying on manual submissions, DBM’s budgeting process took up to 18 months to complete, which came with the risk of an automatically re-enacted annual budget.

Undersecretary Richard Moya, DBM’s chief information officer, says this can affect the delivery of social services and infrastructure projects, choking economic growth because of caps on fiscal expenditure.

“As a step towards promoting transparency and efficiency, we took measures to improve the budget call process by simplifying the steps involved,” says Usec. Moya. DBM computerized the system in 2012, but the system was severely hampered by processing, storage, bandwidth, and downtime issues at DBM’s on-premises IT infrastructure.

The agency was not prepared to shoulder the costly investment of upgrading its capabilities with temperature-controlled facilities, uninterrupted power supply, as well as technical staff to maintain the infrastructure.

Turning to the cloud

To address cost and scalability challenges, DBM initially deployed its Online Submission of Budget Proposals (OBSP) and Unified Reporting System (URS) on a competing solution. However, numerous performance issues bogged down the system, sometimes even requiring personnel to physically visit DBM offices to file submissions. This defeated the purpose of establishing online facilities in the first place.

After migrating critical applications from the competing solution to Microsoft Azure, DBM immediately realized tremendous performance improvements, enabling the agency to shorten the budgeting process and easily publish budget information.

Deploying critical applications on Azure has saved DBM tens of millions of pesos in required infrastructure and maintenance investment. Instead, it pays only a subscription fee of about PhP1.7 million annually – an insignificant amount compared with the PhP2.606 trillion national government budget in 2015.

Transparency and efficiency in governance

“Microsoft Azure has enhanced the efficiency of national government budgeting by improving the budget call process and by simplifying the steps involved for agencies,” says Usec. Moya. In addition, the scalability and flexibility enables DBM to modernize its budget management system in line with the organization’s goals and objectives.

With digital submissions, DBM can easily publish budgets online, improving transparency. DBM is also assured that its data is secure, as Microsoft has sufficient data traffic filters to ensure confidentiality where it matters.

Recognizing the benefits of the cloud, DBM has started to offer Microsoft’s cloud solutions through its Procurement Service, facilitating access to scalable and cost-effective services. “By 2016, we want to be able to roll out a more modern budget management system built on technologies such as Microsoft Azure to help us achieve our organization’s goals and objectives,” says Usec. Moya.

Originally posted in Microsoft Cloud Customer Stories.