29 Jan Speaker's IT Task Force wants less customization, more vendor controls
Madison, Wis. – They may be a bit anticlimatic, given steps that already have been taken, but the Assembly Speakers’ Task Force on Information Technology Failures has issued a series of recommendations designed to prevent future project meltdowns.
In a letter to Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch, the Task Force issued a series of reforms based on its look at project breakdowns. Headed by State Rep. Phil Montgomery, R-Ashwaubenon, the Task Force was established following a critical Legislative Audit Bureau report on large, high-risk information technology projects in state government agencies.
Its recommendations read like a chief information officer’s checklist on large IT implementations. They include:
• Standardized written polices for IT project procedures, and uniform information technology polices and procedures across agencies lines.
• Smaller project sizes.
• Vendor-selection criteria that include a vendor’s track record on similar projects.
• Vendor contracts that include clauses requiring vendors to complete projects without additional payments, or prior approval to exclude the clause.
• To prevent cost overruns associated with excessive software customization, the use of off-the-shelf software whenever possible, and required approval when project customization is necessary.
• Executive sponsors for all projects, and the creation of work environments in which employees can raise and resolve issues.
As the Legislative Audit Bureau has done, the Task Force also called for the reinstatement of the Joint Committee on Information Policy and Technology and the Information Technology Management Board. Another recommendation was for the creation of a more cohesive project management office within Department of Administration.
In the letter, Montgomery acknowledges the biennial budget bill directs the DOA to address many of the same issues, but he said the most glaring omission in the state’s IT projects is “consistent and careful oversight.” He said the oversight is needed to ensure compliance with current state statues prescribing effective management practices.
The letter says reconvening a standing legislative committee with the authority necessary to monitor and approve current and future IT projects will be the next important step in protecting taxpayer interests.
The Task Force was comprised of eight legislative members and eight private-sector members.
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