State lines

Better buying. The Utah Auditor General's Office reported recently that the state's Technology Services Division had made improper software purchases. The auditor's office recommended that the division overhaul its purchasing methods to prevent future problems.

S. Camille Anthony, director of the state's Administrative Services Department, said she agreed with the audit's recommendations and that the department would adopt them.

Complaints by division employees led to separate investigations of the division by auditors and department officials.

In one instance, auditors found that division officials had misspent $1.7 million on an electronic-forms package, a content management application and a customer relationship manager package. They reported that the division had failed to use competitive methods to procure the software and had not evaluated the products properly.

Got Stuff? Connecticut has called for all state agencies to take inventory of any unused property they have, including computers, fax machines and printers, so it can be redeployed to other agencies or sold to local governments or at public auctions.

Items for the 'Got Stuff?' initiative can be viewed on the Connecticut Administrative Services Department Web site, at www.das.state.ct.us. Although surplus property typically is sold at auction, local agencies can e-mail a request to buy items. Also, the administrative department will institute an e-alert system, in which it will e-mail local agencies when items they desire become available.

'Got Stuff?' is part of Gov. John Rowland's effort to cut costs. The effort includes reducing the number of vehicles in the state fleet, changing purchasing practices, offering early retirement to some state workers, and consolidating IT workers, software licenses and computer hardware.

Transformation needed. State and local government officials say new financial, administrative and technology initiatives provide only modest benefits for cash-strapped governments, and they are calling for more focus on business transformation to drive increased benefits, according to a study released this month.

The study by IBM Corp. is based on a survey of 400 state and local government managers. The managers said state and local governments should focus on removing organizational, process and technology barriers to achieve more significant payoffs from initiatives.

Respondents were asked to evaluate 11 initiatives on the basis of whether they improved efficiency. Overall the initiatives provided moderate benefits, achieving an average score of 3.3 on a 5-point scale.

The managers' ratings suggest that governments should adapt their implementation approaches to overcome some of the barriers to realizing the benefits possible from these initiatives, according to the report.

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