Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Can California government stop the string of tech failures?

The Department of Consumer Affairs’ recent BreEZe project, to streamline professional licensing, has been a disaster.
The Department of Consumer Affairs’ recent BreEZe project, to streamline professional licensing, has been a disaster. The Sacramento Bee file

California state government has a long, perplexing history of bungled technology projects.

In just the last few years, officials killed an effort to update the state’s ancient payroll system after spending nearly a decade and $250 million; the Department of Motor Vehicles abandoned an upgrade of its vehicle registration program; and the judiciary cancelled a new case management system after burning through half a billion dollars.

Meanwhile, lawmakers are sifting through the wreckage of the Department of Consumer Affairstroubled BreEZe project, and the University of California is currently trying to gets its payroll upgrade, already two years behind schedule and $50 million over budget, back on track.

How does this keep happening – in the home state of Silicon Valley no less?

A subcommittee of the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee will convene an oversight hearing, in Room 444 of the Capitol following session, to discuss what California must do to prevent continued delays and cost overruns on major technology projects. State Auditor Elaine Howle, whose office has investigated many of these unsuccessful systems, and Carlos Ramos, director of the state Department of Technology, which was recently taken to task for the repeated failures, are among those slated to testify.

VIDEO: California ranks worst in the nation for transparency on state spending, which Dan Walters says is shameful.

TO SERVE AND CONNECT: So California government may not be transparent, but how does it do in providing services to the public? As part of a broader review, the Little Hoover Commission, an independent state oversight agency, will hold a hearing on creative efforts, both in California departments and other states, to improve communication and interactions with the public, 9:30 a.m. in Room 437 of the Capitol.

DRIVING CHANGE: The New Motor Vehicle Board hosts a roundtable with auto industry and state officials to discuss issues including hydrogen fuel cell and plug-in technologies and autonomous vehicle regulations, starting at 9 a.m. at the Department of Motor Vehicles office on 1st Avenue. John Casey, chief of staff to Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, will provide an update on her transportation funding plan, which includes a new road usage fee, during a panel at 10:30 a.m.

DROUGHT ACTION: Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff and Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, are heading to Japan today to study, among other things, the country’s approach to high-speed rail. They will be gone until April 4. As a result of their absence, the Senate held a special session yesterday to take up Gov. Jerry Brown’s emergency drought legislation, passing it over the objections of Rebpublican lawmakers. The bill will come before the Assembly for a vote today.

NEVER FORGET: Some Capitol moments will live in infamy, binding us together for eternity through shared experience – Democrats and Republicans, lawmakers and lobbyists and journalists alike. Where were you when you found out that former Sen. Leland “Uncle Leland” Yee had been arrested by the FBI on suspicion of corruption and conspiracy to traffic weapons? On this first anniversary of his arrest and the raid of his Capitol office, take a moment to reflect, then relive our coverage of the political soap opera that ensued. Yee, who finished third in the June primary for secretary of state, is currently awaiting trial.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, who turns 75 today.

Call The Bee’s Alexei Koseff, (916) 321-5236. Follow him on Twitter @akoseff.