Auditor: State govt. still can’t compute

HAL 9000 computerAs the locus of the global high-tech boom, you would think some of that digital dexterity might rub off on the California state government. Nope.

A new report from state Auditor Elaine Howle is on the California Department of Consumer Affairs’ BreEZe System. It found:

Consumer Affairs failed to adequately plan, staff, and manage the project for developing BreEZe.

  • It did not effectively assess the regulatory entities’ business needs to determine system requirements.
  • Inadequate system requirements led to significant delays at key stages of the project.
  • It relied on faulty assumptions in selecting a commercial “off-the-shelf” system as the foundation for BreEZe, which contributed to an increase in project costs—from $28 million in 2009 to $96 million as of January 2015 for half of the entities originally planned.
  • It did not have adequate staffing to execute and implement BreEZe through critical project phases.

Note that increase in project costs — $68 million wasted. At the same time, because of Moore’s Law, private-sector computer costs were decreasing by up to half every 18 months (or computer power was doubling in that time). Just compare the cell phone you held in 2009 to the one you have now.

Some other cases of state and local government computer disasters, as reported previously at

  • Last year, thieves ripped off $800,000 of computer equipment from San Jose State.
  • Last year, Howle reported on the unreliability of state computer data.
  • Just before that, a computer bug dumped some Covered CA applicants into Medi-Cal.
  • In 2013, unemployment checks were delayed by a glitch in the computer of the Employment Development Department.
  • In 1994, a $44 million DMV computer “debacle” struck.

Tags assigned to this article:
John SeilerauditorcomputersElaine Howle

John Seiler

John Seiler

John Seiler has been writing about California for 25 years. That includes 22 years as an editorial writer for the Orange County Register and two years for, where he is managing editor. He attended the University of Michigan and graduated from Hillsdale College. He was a Russian linguist in U.S. Army military intelligence from 1978 to 1982. He was an editor and writer for Phillips Publishing Company from 1983 to 1986. He has written for Policy Review, Chronicles,, Flash Report and numerous other publications. His email: [email protected]

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