Thomas J. Cook - Secretary of Finance
The Delaware Department of Finance's mission is to promote Delaware's fiscal heath fairly and efficiently by forecasting, generating, collecting and accounting for funds critical to essential government services.
The Cabinet Secretary of Finance is the state's Chief Financial Officer and is the central source for economic and fiscal policy and management of financial resources. The Office of the Secretary provides economic data, revenue and legislative analyses and public information services. The office also provides the three operating divisions with managerial and technical support in achieving department-wide goals.
The Office of the Secretary provides management and oversight of General Obligation debt and overall coordination and management of all debt of the state and state authorities. In addition, the office builds the foundation for the state's General Fund budget process by providing the analysis and forecasting of revenues in support of the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council (DEFAC).
The mission of the division is to provide expert financial and technical accounting services for the State of Delaware, delivering central support to state organizations as well as consistent and reliable financial information to the public.
The division is responsible for preparing and issuing the State's annual Comprehensive Financial Report in full compliance with Governmental Accounting Standards Board Statement 34 and 35, which more closely aligns governmental financial statements with the ones found in private industry. Each fiscal year since 1995, the State has received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association.
The division also establishes and implements procedures and regulations pertaining to the statewide accounting and payroll systems; processes the state's accounting and payroll transactions; certifies the validity of transactions; and coordinates accounting, payroll and other financial matters with state agencies.
In fulfillment of its mission, the division's on-going initiatives have increased the efficiency of the state's financial processes and continue to enhance the availability of information to its customers. The division is committed to reaching these goals through the application of technology. The division continuously works to eliminate obsolete, paper-based processes in favor of more efficient electronic alternatives.
As the primary revenue collector for the State, the division's mission is to collect 100 percent of the taxes and other revenues required by law, no more and no less, and to do so in a manner that creates the highest possible level of satisfaction on the part of the public with the division's competence, courtesy, effectiveness and efficiency.
Revenue revolves around three activities: tax processing, tax enforcement and policy formulation. Tax processing involves receiving documents and remittances, depositing remittances, entering/capturing data from returns, validating the taxpayer's determination of tax, refunding overpayments and assuring proper accounting (including internal controls) and reporting of these transactions.
Each year, the division processes over 425,000 personal and 600,000 business tax returns and issues more than 280,000 tax refunds. In addition, the division's computer staff is responsible for the design and administration of some of the most sophisticated and technically-advanced processing and imaging systems in the state. Delaware has been a national leader in applying technology to tax administration.
Tax enforcement includes examinations and audits (i.e., determinations of tax) and collection of delinquent accounts. The division's enforcement responsibilities encompass 15 different revenue sources, including the state's personal and corporate income taxes, gross receipts tax and realty transfer tax.
The division has focused on improving the quality of service to the customers. One initiative is the Quality Service Mailbox, which allows callers to leave comments for the division.
Electronic filing of income tax returns has continued to expand statewide. The division received over 144,000 electronically filed personal tax returns in Fiscal Year 2003 (compared to 126,000, 101,000, 83,000, 33,000 and 6,100 personal tax returns in Fiscal Years 2002, 2001, 2000, 1998 and 1996, respectively). The division projects that it will receive 155,000 personal tax returns electronically in Fiscal Year 2004, which will represent approximately 37 percent of all Personal Income Tax returns filed. These returns do not require manual intervention in the form of sorting, data entry or return validation.
The division has aggressively pursued the method of filing personal tax returns in a digital format, consisting of Internet filing, electronic software filing, and barcoded paper filing. Digital returns reduce mail and data entry processing and as a result improve the refund issuance process and decrease seasonal and operating expenses. Since implementation, the number of digitally filed returns has increased from zero in Fiscal Year 1995 to 248,000 in Fiscal Year 2003.
The mission of this agency is to maximize revenue contributions to the state's General Fund, thereby helping to fund the delivery of governmental services to the people of Delaware:
- Through the marketing, sale and distribution of innovative, entertaining and secure lottery products that ensure the public's confidence in the integrity of the games, retailers, agents and lottery operations; and
- By providing leadership and a corporate culture that encourages productive change leading to improvement in every aspect of the business.
One of the Delaware Lottery's most significant achievements is receiving the Delaware Quality Award of Merit from the American Society for Quality, Delaware Section. Delaware's Quality Award was created to foster and recognize outstanding performance in businesses and organizations across the State and, as Governor Minner wrote, "...winners of the Delaware Quality Award have the highest commitment and dedication to quality." Of the 17 Delaware organizations that have received the Quality Award of Merit since its introduction in 1992 (including such distinguished and diverse organizations as Dover Air Force Base and St. Francis Hospital), the Delaware Lottery became only the third state agency to be so honored.
For seven consecutive years, Delaware's Video Lottery has been the most profitable operation of its kind in the country, generating more net proceeds per capita ($657) than any other state. Total net proceeds, for Fiscal Year 2003, from all three racetracks topped the one-half billion dollar mark for the third year in a row. In addition, there have been recent legislative and regulatory changes, including extended operating hours, increased number of machines, and a surcharge on video agent's commissions that are projected to enhance video General Fund profits in Fiscal Year 2005 by $20 million.
On the technology front, during Fiscal Year 2003, the Delaware Lottery completed a more than two-year project involving the design, development and implementation of a new central system. The new video central system was put into operation in October 2002 and was followed by the conversion of the traditional on-line lottery in February 2003. The traditional lottery implementation included the installation of more than 450 new, state-of-the-art TCP/IP based lottery terminals throughout the State. During the same fiscal year, the Delaware Lottery won its second national Batchy Award for excellence. Batchy Awards are presented annually by the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries in a variety of industry related categories and media. The Lottery Office won its most recent Batchy Award when its website, delottery.com, was named the premier lottery website among all North American state and provincial lotteries. An interesting feature is the posting of "live-to-file" animated drawings of the Lottery Office's on-line games to the website.