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Governor's Office of Planning & Budget Announces Completion of Consultant's Management Study of Georgia Student Finance Commission

Thursday, July 3, 2003  Contact: Office of Communications 404-651-7774


Atlanta - Governor Sonny Perdue and the Office of Planning & Budget announced today the completion and release of a management study of the Georgia Student Finance Commission (GSFC). The study was conducted from July 2002 through May 2003 by the Atlanta-based consultancy firm of Draper & Associates. The comprehensive study included an evaluation of GSFC's organizational structure, operating and administrative processes, and financial and management practices.

"I've previously expressed my commitment to take the necessary steps to ensure that Georgia ranks among the nation's best managed states within four years," said Governor Sonny Perdue. "Reaching such a goal will also require the state's agencies to perform at the highest levels. I look forward to working with Tommy Hills, the state's newly appointed chief financial officer, and Shelley Nickel, GSFC's executive director, and the GSFC board to identify those study findings that will strengthen this important state agency's practices and operations," added Governor Perdue.

The review was initiated nearly a year ago as part of a regular, on-going effort to improve the efficiency of state agencies. GSFC administers Georgia's HOPE scholarship program and guaranteed student loans and many other scholarship and grant programs. The agency is governed by a Board of Directors appointed by the Governor, and operates as an authority in the State. GSFC reports directly to the Governor's Chief Financial Officer.

"As the newly appointed director of GSFC, the Draper study will be helpful to me and my team in prioritizing ways to make GSFC services more attractive to state institutions of higher learning and to students applying for a multitude of financial aid programs. We are fortunate that the Fiscal Year 2004 budget provides funds to re-engineer many of the processes identified in the study, including the upgrade of information technology systems to support operations," said Shelley Nickel, GSFC's Executive Director.

"We are hopeful that implementation of the study's recommendations will reduce overall costs, improve customer service, improve internal processes, and other business practices which will result in more efficient program administration. Based on our initial review, we expect that the entire reengineering effort will take 12 to18 months to fully implement," added Nickel.

Major study areas included organization and staffing; process flow; systems; customer service; financial strategies; and strategic and leadership management. The study noted the following concerns regarding GSFC's operations and management practices:

  • The structure of autonomous operating units detracts from overall performance.
  • Information technology is outdated.
  • There is a lack of customer-centered practices.
  • GSFC needs to be financially competitive.
  • Internal cultural changes are needed to move to a more cooperative, less adversarial business environment.
  • Operational understanding of student lending business aspects is needed.
  • There is a lack of appropriate policies and procedures for administering programs, including inadequate compliance efforts.
  • Uncorrected operations could lead to increased pressures for higher state appropriations, which would be necessary to administer state programs.

The study's executive summary is available on GSFC's website - Copies of the study's full contents may be obtained by contacting GSFC at (770) 724-9000.