Officials with the California State Controller's Office spent the better part of three hours last week explaining how their defunct project to overhaul the state payroll system fell victim to vendors' shoddy work and other factors.
The Senate budget subcommittee hearing, chaired by Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, also underscored how term limits and employee turnover give officials cover when computer projects crash.
"I wasn't here" was the most- repeated phrase during Thursday's hearing, as speaker after speaker made clear they had inherited the 9-year-old project or its oversight.
Even Roth, a retired two-star general in his first Senate term, hasn't been around the Capitol long.
He spent most of the hearing asking project manager Tony Davidson about a report portraying the project and the controller's office in a less than favorable light.
Davidson joined the project a few years ago.
State Controller John Chiang didn't attend the meeting, but he's got some distance from the project, too.
He inherited the payroll system overhaul from predecessor Steve Westly in 2007.
And if you start with the first $1 million to study an overhaul, the project is actually 15 years old.
THE STATE WORKER
According to the latest data from CalPERS, the number of state employee retirements this year continues to outpace 2012. So far, 6,643 state workers have applied to take their service pensions, up more than 2.8 percent from the same seven-month period a year ago. The trend is mirrored among local government and school district employees in CalPERS.
"We don't know where it's being done, we don't know how they do it, we don't know when they do it, and we don't know what they do with the waste."
SEN. HANNAH-BETH JACKSON, D-Santa Barbara, talking to Southern California public radio station KPCC (89.3 FM) last week after the California Coastal Commission announced that it will investigate reports of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, off the state's coast.