Bringing the State Treasury into the 21st century
May 3, 2022 (Little Rock, Ark.) – When Treasurer of State Dennis Milligan took office in 2015, he made it quickly known to his staff that he would challenge them to look for new, innovative ways to improve the Treasury.
In addition to overseeing a nearly $5 billion investment portfolio, the Treasury also processes more than $70 million in deposits each day from local, state and federal sources. Moreover, it has the responsibility of returning more than $2.3 billion in sales and use taxes as well as county and municipal aid funds each year.
“When I came into office, we were still using paper letters to communicate with cities and counties. Agency representatives were still hand-delivering checks to the Treasury to be deposited into their accounts. In our investment division, we were still spending several hours a day on the phone with banks trying to secure the best rates we could for certificates of deposit,” Milligan said. “I found it baffling that we are living in the 21st century and yet still operating so inefficiently. So one of the first things I did was challenge my staff to come up with ways that we could work more efficiently and more transparently.”
One of the ideas Milligan had to promote technology was to ask the Legislature for approval to allow the Treasury to transfer funds to cities and counties through direct deposit.
After getting help from the Legislature with updating state statutes, Milligan hired a Chief Technology Officer to create and update a number of new web-based systems that have made it much simpler and safer for agencies, cities and counties to communicate with the Treasury.
One of those portals is a special software system for the Treasury’s Local Government Services division that electronically notifies cities and counties of the amounts of their monthly distributions. Previously, the Treasury would send out letters to the roughly 500 municipalities each month, which cost the state upwards of $20,000 annually in postage alone.
“By creating this portal, we’re communicating with cities and counties in real-time rather than on a monthly basis, streamlining our notification process while also trimming costs,” Milligan said. “And we’ve had great feedback from the municipalities that we serve.”
Milligan also implemented a web-based platform for his Receiving Department, which allows state agencies to deposit checks and electronic funds transfers to the Treasury digitally rather than in person, saving valuable time for agency representatives.
“Our Treasury Receiving Interactive Program actually places check scanners at the agencies and offers training on how to use them, so that when a state agency has a check they need deposited into their account, they can do that remotely from their office without having to physically carry the checks to the Treasury,” Milligan explained. “Once the checks are scanned in, they immediately come to our Receiving Department. Not only am I proud of this program for its efficiency, but it also provides an added layer of security now that agency representatives don’t have to leave their offices to deposit checks.
“This process will make it much easier for us to keep the state’s business going during times of inclement weather or, heaven forbid, another health crisis like the pandemic.”
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Dennis Milligan was elected Treasurer of State in 2014 and re-elected in 2018. The State Treasury is responsible for overseeing the state’s $6 billion portfolio. Since taking office in 2015, Milligan has receipted the state more than $474 million in investment returns and has grown the investment portfolio’s receipts to record highs. www.artreasury.gov.