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University of Central Florida : ARGIS v2 Announced
ORLANDO - Information systems researchers at the University of Central Florida have designed a Web-based enterprise-level system to provide researchers, department program chairs, college deans and other grant managers direct access to the information needed for managing UCF's burgeoning research.

Under a multimillion dollar, multiyear contract for the Department of Defense, UCF researchers had developed a cataloging system in 1996 at the request of the US Army, Navy and Air Force. Impressed with the Web-based design and management capabilities, UCF's Associate Vice President for Research, Mr. Thomas O'Neal, asked for an academic version. The result was the "Academic Research & Grants Information System" (known as ARGIS version 1), which went online in 2001.

Mrs. Tammie McClellan, Director of the Department of Information Systems Technology at UCF's Institute for Simulation & Training, has guided ARGIS development throughout its evolution from military catalog management to a total university research support system.

"Research grants to the university are growing at an amazing rate," says Mrs. McClellan. "The Office of Research wanted to improve its responsiveness to the myriad of details, reports and other information required to manage research funding. Technology now makes it possible to automate business processes and share information without duplication in a seamless manner. ARGIS is the perfect reflection of this idea."

The University's Associate Vice President for Research, Mr. Thomas O'Neal, saw ARGIS as a possible way to increase the research office's efficiency.

ARGIS proved to be no less than revolutionary for the Office of Research, from automating initial proposal submission and review all the way to publicizing research results. The system tracks deliverables, catalogs research documents, produces financial reports (via connection to the UCF Peoplesoft financial database) and identifies research expertise. Its search engine can be used to look up research by subject, department, individual, sponsor, funding level, contract vehicle and other characteristics. Queries can be saved as templates for future reports. Multiple display alternatives provide information formats suited to a particular viewing audience.

"By giving faculty, staff and the University's partners access to timely information about our research, we hoped to simplify the application, administration and accounting process for project funding," says Vice President for Research, Mr. M.J. Soileau. In fact, the Office of Research found that by streamlining its grants management, ARGIS reduced the paperwork generated by and amount of time spent in submitting, reviewing, approving, and administering proposals and awards. ARGIS has created enough savings to pay for itself.

Due to many requests for enhancements and special tailoring, work on ARGIS version 2 began early in 2002. This new version was accepted for testing by the research office earlier this year. It is scheduled for campus-wide deployment in early November.

ARGIS is based on an 8-year wealth of experience with data cataloging. Project investigators and university research administrators redesigned the package from the inside out so that it would easily adapt to virtually any data gathering and tracking requirement. ARGIS' inherent design lends itself to be easily adapted by other universities. Plans for licensing ARGIS for use outside UCF are already underway.

ARGIS requires a high capacity web server, MS-SQL™ server, MacroMedia ColdFusion™ 5.0 or higher and Crystal Reports™. A complete system overview is available at http://argis.crata.ucf.edu on the Web. Contact the ARGIS Team via email (ARGIS-Team@ARGIS.org) or telephone (407-882-1355).