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The Quality Assurance Team (QAT) has just issued a damning new report on the failure of state agencies across the spectrum to complete technology projects on-time and on-budget, finding millions in waste and inefficiency.

According to the report, from November 2011 to November 2012, various state agencies undertook 53 projects aimed at upgrading or developing major information resources, representing a total taxpayer investment of nearly $1.5 billion. Here's how those projects stand:

"Of the 53 projects in QAT's state-technology project portfolio, 33 are late by an average of 22 months. In addition, 29 of the projects are over their initial budget by an average of $6.8 million or 84 percent. One project was canceled by the agency after it spent an estimated $7.6 million, while another agency terminated a contract in which the vendor had been on the project for three years."

Deciding to take a closer look at 13 projects, singled-out because they were "reported as complete or were nearing completion," QAT found further detailed evidence of taxpayer neglect:

    • Twelve of the 13 projects reviewed "were completed late or are projected to be late. The average delay for all of the projects was over 14 months, or a 71 percent increase from the original estimated completion dates." [emphasis mine]
    • Nearly all of the projects went over budget. "Overall, the 13 projects exceeded their budgets on average by 91 percent. Two projects exceeded their initial budget projections by 475 percent and 280 percent, respectively. One project came in under budget by 16 percent. Another project came in under budget by 44 percent, but the system delivered less functionality than was originally planned." [emphasis mine]
    • Almost half of the projects lacked basic cost components, like salaries and benefits for state employees who worked on the projects.
    • And for three of the four projects that were complete and up-and-running for more than six months, agencies had not submitted all their necessary paperwork.

As if this isn't enough to perturb taxpayers, the report also suggested that 28 more projects were slated to begin soon "from eight agencies with estimated costs of $175.3 million." While taxpayers should certainly hope that these 28 projects will be handled differently than their predecessors, there is currently no evidence to support that.

In an era where money is tight, poor project planning and implementation of this sort is unacceptable and the Legislature should consider tighter controls over the process to strengthen taxpayer confidence.

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