Can Gavin Newsom finally fix California’s tech woes?




California is the worldwide capital of technological innovation, nonetheless state officers are relatively more proficient at devising catchy names for his or her big “information technology” initiatives than actually implementing them.

Take, for example, one factor often called “BrEZee,” which is supposed to streamline how the state Department of Consumer Affairs licenses quite a few 1000’s employees.

Four years up to now, the state auditor’s office concluded “that the BreEZe project has been plagued with performance problems, significant delays, and escalating costs, which based on a January 2015 estimate were $96 million – more than triple the original cost estimate –for implementation of a system at only half of the regulatory entities originally planned for BreEZe.”

Today, the system continues to be not completely operational and lots of of hundreds of additional are being sought to fix its operational points.

The biggest current headache, nonetheless, is the Financial Information System for California, dubbed FI$CAL, which has the motto of “one state, one system,” and was launched 12 years up to now to be a multi-agency software program for managing money.

It’s swallowed nearly a billion nonetheless is so unreliable, the state auditor found, that some state companies gained’t use it to provide appropriate evaluations that the federal authorities requires for granting funds.

After the auditor’s office launched its latest story of FI$CAL woe this yr, state Controller Betty Yee knowledgeable the Legislature that she is “gravely concerned” that its unreliability would possibly undermine the state’s credit score standing.

“We need to pause and direct resources to making FI$CAL work as it was intended to work,” she wrote. “Continuing to push ahead by adding features that do not work or bringing more departments into the troubled system will cost taxpayers exponentially more in the long run.”

So it has gone, system after system failing to fulfill timetables for implementation, working up giant value overruns and by no means working reliably. And however, the state moreover cannot proceed to utilize methods which might be so earlier they may’t be serviced and generally break down. One goal the Department of Motor Vehicles has develop right into a managerial morass is that its historic laptop computer system ceaselessly crashes for hours whereas prospects wait in line.

Then-Gov. Jerry Brown created a “task force” to examine IT points early in his second governorship. It reported that it “is optimistic that with the current leadership and institutional commitment to reform, California’s current and future IT projects can and will be more successful.”

Brown moreover created a Department of Technology that was to oversee IT initiatives, considerably than have specific individual departments go it alone. It wrote a “Vision 2020” strategic plan for implementing IT nonetheless the problems have continued.

Brown’s successor, Gavin Newsom, has pledged to shake points up and proposes in his first funds $36 million to create an “Office of Digital Innovation” that he says will take a additional inventive methodology. “If you like the status quo, you’re not going to like these reforms,” Newsom said.

Meanwhile, a Democratic assemblyman from Marin County, Marc Levine, wants in order so as to add nonetheless one different layer of oversight. His Assembly Bill 1055 would require any big IT endeavor, one costing over $100 million, to have an unbiased oversight committee.

“While oversight of technology projects can be as boring as watching paint dry, California needs much more than a fresh coat of paint on our management of these projects,” Levine said.

True enough, nonetheless we’ve heard ensures of up to date begins on IT implementation sooner than, they normally’ve all fallen wanting actually fixing the problem.

CALmatters is a public curiosity journalism enterprise devoted to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it points. For additional tales by Dan Walters, go to calmatters.org/commentary




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