The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

February 11, 2009
Blogger takes on state IT projects

090211 Teri_Takai.jpg

Blogger Michael Krigsman has an interesting analysis of Chief Info Officer Teri Takai's "Wins for California's Information Technology" list.

Krigsman notes that the CIO's Web site introduces 10 completed projects and nine active projects with these words:

The story of IT in California is one of many successes and a few failures. Between 2003 and 2007, California successfully completed more than 90 projects. These projects, stewarded by a combination of hardworking state employees, involved executives, and a watchful legislature, have provided services to millions of Californians in an efficient and effective manner. The list below exemplifies the breadth and variety of California's IT successes.

But after analyzing the cost and duration of more than 90 projects on the list of state IT efforts, Krigsman concludes:

Apparently, California's CIO selectively pulled examples of relatively short IT projects from her large portfolio to "prove" successful IT in general ,,, I believe California's CIO presented an unbalanced, and perhaps even misleading, view of success and likely failure on the state's IT project portfolio.

You can read Krigsman's analysis here. Click on this link for the 65-page "California Information Technology Strategic Plan," from which the "Wins" list was culled.

So we contacted Takai's office -- something we're told that Krigsman didn't do -- to get a response to the blog. What follows is the unedited e-mailed answers to our questions from the CIO's Adrian Farley, Chief Deputy Director for Policy and Program Management:

Is the analysis fair and accurate?

The state's IT Strategic Plan provides a framework to addresses many longstanding issues with IT in California. Due to the breadth of the document, it is possible that information in the Plan could be misconstrued which could then lead to inaccurate conclusions. As an example, the durations of the 10 completed plans highlighted were 3.56 years on average and not 1.9 years as mentioned in the blog. The Child Support Automated system for example took almost 6 years to complete, far longer than the 2 years described in the blog. While there are always risks associated with large IT projects, the state has completed more than 100 projects since 2003 with an average cost of almost $26 million - and more than 25% of these projects had a duration of 3 years or longer. The Office of the State CIO is committed to promoting transparency and the entire list of approved projects is posted on our website and we are always available to provide additional information about specific projects.

How were the 19 projects picked for the "Wins for California's Information Technology" list?

The 10 completed projects highlighted in the IT Strategic Plan were chosen because they provide context as to the scope and scale of the IT projects undertaken by the state and because they are representative of the diversity of 119 projects completed by state agencies since 2003. The nine projects listed in the top nine are those active IT projects with approved budgets above $150 million.

How is the state's budget strain impacting current projects?

In light of the state's fiscal condition, the OCIO is working with departments to reduce project costs. This ranges from delaying projects to exploring innovative strategies to fund projects.

Note: Thanks to State Worker blog user rbatters for calling our attention to the Krigsman blog.

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at jortiz@sacbee.com.

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