Ok, now that I no longer work for the State of Tennessee so I can officially say that Project Edison stinks! For those that don’t know Project Edison, it is the financial software that the State of Tennessee bought about 2 years ago to handle all of the financial transactions in all of the Departments, including TDOT. It should take you no time at all to Google dozens of articles in the papers explaining what a bad idea and how wasteful this software package has been for the State of Tennessee. It has created many headaches.
Essentially, Edison is some sort of off-the-shelf financial software designed for private industry. Well guess what, the State of Tennessee is not a private firm that is supposed to make a profit. It was not designed at all for the way the State, and especially TDOT, does business and handles reimbursements.
So what does this have to do with local programs? Everything. All reimbursements on all projects are processed through Edison. The good news is that hardworking, intelligent and dedicated State employees who understand how things really work have, for the most part, figured out how to trick Edison into doing what it needs to do (but was not at all designed to do).
This results in payments are being processed very quickly once everything is entered into the system correctly on the front end. Sometimes in as little as 2-3 weeks after the local government submits the claim. The key is “once everything has been properly entered and set up”. For each phase of work, and especially the very first reimbursement on a project, getting a payment back can take longer to process. Sometimes a lot longer if there are issues.
My advice is that once you receive a Notice to Proceed- especially the first one for PE-NEPA- send in a reimbursement request as soon as possible. It could be for a small amount of $50 or less. The key is to get that reimbursement in so that it can get everything set up for latter reimbursements. I would rather a local government be waiting a long time for a $50 payment than a $15,000 payment.
Another quick tip is to make sure that all the invoices, and what you are requesting add up to the penny. I have seen where a reimbursement request for tens of thousands of dollars was held up for weeks and weeks due to the math being off by one single penny. This can be a big issue on larger invoices where accounting software rounds things up or down. Check your math.
As a side note Jason McCoy (615-532-4416 Jason.McCoy@tn.gov) is the TDOT Local Programs reimbursement and payment expert. The webpage to get more information is here http://www.tdot.state.tn.us/local/reimbursement.htm
He is a super nice guy to work with and really knows his stuff. He is on your side to get your payment processed. If you have any questions I would call him up to make sure everything is ok.