Wisconsin auditors cite overruns on IT projects

MARCH 27—Six of seven major information technology projects reviewed by the Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau were over budget, delayed or faulty, the bureau said.

Wilson P. Dizard III

GCN Staff

MARCH 27—Six of seven major information technology projects reviewed by the Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau were over budget, delayed or faulty, the bureau said.

The auditors also questioned the state's use of consultants, after finding that many of them cost more to employ than comparable state workers. In several cases, state employees quit and then returned to their agencies as consultants earning two to three times their state salaries.

The Wisconsin Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System was originally scheduled to be completed this year at a cost of $53.8 million, but it has been delayed to 2004 and likely will cost $78.9 million, the auditors said. Costs for a centralized human resources system for state employees ballooned from $965,000 to $5 million, according to the auditors' report, State Agency Use of Computer Consultants.

Wisconsin's KIDS information system for managing child support payments was completed two years late at a cost of $51.4 million, $28.5 million over budget, the auditors found. The state declared the KIDS system complete in 1997, even though it incorporated only 37 of the 91 features originally planned.

Wisconsin has been paying consultants as much as $195 per hour, according to the report. In a sample of 32 hourly contractors who did the same type of work as state employees, 29 of the contractors cost more than state employees, the auditors found.

In response to the report, George Lightbourn, secretary of the Administration Department, proposed employee training and reforms to improve project management. He also endorsed the creation of an Electronic Government Department to be led by a statewide chief information officer.

The report is available on the Web at www.legis.state.wi.us/lab/Reports/01-6tear.htm.

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