A leading state lawmaker has rejected an appeal for another $17.5 million for a troubled computer system that auditors blasted earlier this month as poorly planned, inadequately managed, underperforming and busting its budget.
According to a letter obtained by The Sacramento Bee, state Sen. Mark Leno, who leads the Senate budget committee, informed Finance Director Michael Cohen that his request for more money on behalf of the Department of Consumer Affairs is a no-go, at least for now.
Leno, D-San Francisco, wrote that the Brown administration “has failed to provide adequate information necessary to inform the Legislature’s review and decision-making,” such as how the department will move the BreEZe project forward and how its higher costs will impact license fees.
About a quarter of the 40 regulatory boards, bureaus and commissions in Consumer Affairs have implemented the system since fall 2013, aiming to streamline and automate work. After a bumpy start, some of the bugs have been fixed and some units have adjusted. Still, a recent state audit hammered the department for failing to adequately access its business needs and monitor the project, noting that more than 1,000 defects remain in the system.
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The estimated BreEZe budget has ballooned from $28 million to $96 million. The department has spent nearly $37 million so far.
Consumer Affairs officials also sought legislative permission to cut ties with the BreEZe vendor, Accenture, once the second of three planned BreEZe phases launched. They asserted, according to Leno’s letter, that delaying the move would cost the state about $1.3 million each month the company is still under contract, plus another $400,000 per month for other state staff and contractors.
“While I expect the Administration will make every effort to minimize the costs ... on balance, I believe that it is worth the risk,” Leno wrote, so that the Legislature could act once it has more information. “I will reconsider the merits of the proposed approach following upcoming legislative oversight hearings” in the next few months.
Call Jon Ortiz, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1043.