The state’s dismal record on creating new computer systems, many of which come in over budget and past deadlines, is partly the fault of poor oversight by the California Department of Technology (CalTech), a state audit concluded Thursday.
The agency lacks guidance for stopping or fixing troubled projects and suffers a high turnover of staff that hinders its work, the report found.
State Auditor Elaine Howle recommended a stronger role for stepping in when projects go over budget or past deadlines.
“The State has a history of failed IT projects—between 1994 and 2013, for example, the State terminated or suspended seven IT projects after spending almost $1 billion,” Howle wrote to Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers.
The state currently has 45 projects under development with a reported cost of more than $4 billion that CalTech is supposed to oversee, she said. “Six of these projects with total costs of over $575 million have problems that are negatively impacting the project’s progress, which could result in delays and cost overruns,” Howle wrote.
She concluded that the agency’s oversight should continue to be designated as a “high-risk” issue requiring additional attention.
The auditor cited problem projects including the Department of Consumer Affairs' BreEZe information technology system that licenses doctors, contractors, auto repair shops and other professions. That project’s cost has increased from $28 million in 2009 to $96 million as of January and helps only half of the entities originally planned, another audit found.
Auditors said the agency was aware of significant problems on two other projects but "it did not intervene to require the sponsoring agencies to correct such problems. CalTech ultimately terminated one of these projects and suspended the other."
CalTech’s director, Carlos Ramos, said in a letter to auditors that his agency is aware of the need for improvement and already taking steps to provide better oversight, including new training of staff and changing the way projects are approved.
“CalTech is committed to continue to improve the services associated with the successful delivery of information technology,” Ramos said.