U.S. Mint honored for cutting edge technology

klunney@govexec.com

U.S. Mint employees were honored by Vice President Al Gore last week for creating an integrated information system that has improved customer service and increased sales.

A team of sixty-six employees received a Hammer Award for developing Consolidated Information Systems (COINS), an on-line information database that links administrative, manufacturing, sales and financial data which helps the agency deliver products faster and keep track of inventory more efficiently.

COINS has been in place since October 1998. The agency integrated four types of software to create the database that simultaneously keeps track of customer orders, shipping, and production logistics. Customer service representatives can trace the history of an order simply by typing in a customer's last name, for example. The system also automatically eliminates duplicate information and updates data.

The agency plans to upgrade the system and introduce COINS 2.0 in October.

John Mitchell, deputy director of the Mint, said that product delivery took anywhere from eight weeks to six months before COINS. Now, Mitchell said, most products ordered off the Web take a week to reach customers, and those who choose expedited delivery receive their merchandise in one day.

Mitchell praised the agency's partnership with industry on the project, but gave the bulk of the credit to the COINS team.

"Our employees worked side by side with the contractors, but it was the COINS team who was empowered to make decisions on behalf of the agency," Mitchell said.

Gore began handing out awards in 1994 to federal employees who create innovative programs that help make government operate more effectively. The reinvention awards consist of a $6.00 hammer that mock the days when the government spent $400 on one hammer.

This is the Mint's twelfth Hammer Award.

In 1999, the Mint made $2.4 billion in revenues and returned $1 billion in profits to the U.S. Treasury General Fund. This year, the agency expects to return nearly $3 billion to the general fund.

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