PolitiCal

State is warned about new fiscal computer system's costs and timeline

SACRAMENTO -- A computer project to modernize the way the state of California manages its finances will take 12 months longer to complete and cost $55.8 million more than originally budgeted, the state auditor warned Wednesday.

The Financial Information System for California project is aimed at coordinating and improving state government activity on budgeting, accounting, procurement and cash management.

A decision to change the way the project is implemented to reduce risk and increase the probability of its success has increased its price tag from $616.8 million to $672.6 million and added a year to its schedule, State Auditor Elaine Howle said in a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown and leaders of the Legislature.

Howle said the project, which involves the firm Accenture as system integrator, will be implemented in five waves, starting in July.

She voiced concern the new approach means the number of departments included in the fourth wave has ballooned from 45 to 68.

“Our IT expert believes that including so many departments in a single wave may overwhelm the project’s resources,” Howle wrote to Brown.

She also said the project is behind schedule in implementing the project's budgeting function, which includes developing the state’s budget and monitoring expenditures against budget appropriations. Some elements of the budgeting functions will be delayed by months from the July 1 go-live date, she said.

The changes, including additional costs, are anticipated in Gov. Jerry Brown's budget for next year, said H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for the Department of Finance.

"As with any large IT project, FI$CAL has and will continue to experience challenges that must be resolved," Palmer said.  "However, the Administration remains committed to building the 2015-16 Governor’s Budget in the FI$Cal system."

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patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com

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