The State Worker

California Consumer Affairs’ officials admit IT flop, ask for more money

The Department of Consumer Affairs headquarters.
The Department of Consumer Affairs headquarters. Sacramento Bee file

Contrite officials with the Deparment of Consumer Affairs admitted Thursday that a 2-year-old computer system is a mess, then explained why lawmakers should give them another $17.5 million for it.

The BreEZe system, Consumer Affairs Director Awet Kidane told a Senate budget subcommittee, suffered from planning, implementation and oversight shortcomings outlined in a February state audit. He mentioned several times that not enough weight had been given to training employees who would work with BreEZe daily.

“Admittedly, the department failed miserably at change management,” Kidane said.

From the outset, BreEZe didn’t deliver the online convenience for consumers and deep data analysis promised when envisioned as a $27 million project six years ago. After 10 of its regulatory boards and bureaus launched BrEZe in 2013, backlogs ensued. Registered-nurse licensing bogged down, for example, and some nursing school grads lost job opportunities because of it. The system spit out unreliable data.

As delays and costs climbed, the Legislature upped the project’s budget to $77 million. The department has spent $37 million so far.

Kidane has asked for another $17.5 million on top of that to finish adding another eight boards and bureaus to BreEZe and then ax its relationship with the project vendor, Accenture LPC. The department would then reassess what to do for the last 19 boards and bureaus.

Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside and the panel chairman, set an April 23 hearing date for a more detailed discussion of the project.

Call Jon Ortiz, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1043.

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