06 Feb Legislators want audit of state IT excess
State spending on information technology may soon be subject to an audit to determine how multiple public projects, costing tens of millions of dollars each, have failed to deliver on their promises.
Senator Carol Roessler and representative Suzanne Jeskewitz, co-chairs of the Joint Audit Committee, said that important computer systems that have been developed or renovated recently are inefficient or non-functional, and appear to be wasting taxpayer money with little accountability. They think they have enough committee support to approve an audit.
Senator Robert Cowles joined them, saying on Friday that “the IT gravy train must be derailed.” He said the state spends $740 million a year on IT, and that spending on contractors has doubled over the past decade to $90 million.
The projects, and their costs so far according to the legislators, are:
• The University of Wisconsin’s new payroll system ($25 million)
• Statewide voter registration list ($13.9 million, in a controversial contract with Accenture)
• The Division of Motor Vehicles’ new registration and titling system ($35.6 million)
• A Department of Revenue system to process taxes and distribute sales tax revenue to counties ($37.1 million)
Not only have they experienced cost overruns, but these projects are not serving the state, legislators say. The UW payroll system is still not being used. Problems with the voter registration list are being blamed for causing the state to miss a January 1 federal deadline for implementation. The DMV registration system is causing huge delays for customers. And the tax system has experienced thousands of errors.
An audit, which still has to be approved, could take months, and right now the potential outcomes are uncertain.