Auditor scolds state on state computer disasters

by John Seiler | March 22, 2015 4:59 am

does not computeA longtime theme[1] of has been the numerous computer disasters of the California government, in juxtaposition to the computer and Internet revolutions that have taken place in the state.

State Auditor Elaine M. Howle just released a comprehensive report[2] scolding government officials for the many computer glitches over the decades costing in some cases tens of millions of dollars. It highlighted the oversight that’s supposed to be done by the California Department of Technology:

“IT project oversight continues to be a high-risk issue, in part, because of the needed improvements in CalTech’s oversight discussed below and because of the negative impact to the state’s fiscal health when these IT projects fail. For example, between 1994 and 2013, the state terminated or suspended seven IT projects after spending almost $1 billion.”

That’s a lot of money that could have gone to schools, roads, health care or tax cuts.

Despite such failures, as of last month, California “had 45 IT projects under development that were under CalTech’s oversight, with a reported cost of more than $4 billion.”

The main problem is CalTech just doesn’t suspend dubious projects:

“Despite clear statutory authority to curtail troubled state IT projects, CalTech faces challenges in pursuing effective project oversight. One challenge is that CalTech lacks guidance in two critical situations: when CalTech management should suspend or terminate a project and when its independent project oversight (IPO) analysts should escalate concerns to CalTech management. In addition, CalTech does not formally set expectations for its oversight authority with sponsoring agencies — the state agencies that are implementing IT projects. This lack of communication may contribute to an environment wherein sponsoring agencies view CalTech as a service provider whose oversight they do not have to rigorously follow.”

The auditor recommended that, by Dec. 2015, CalTech develop “criteria” to properly intervene and, if necessary, end bad projects, specificially:

  1. longtime theme:
  2. comprehensive report:

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