the republic logo

Audit says NC agencies aren't tracking whether major IT projects are really saving money

bug
Share/Save/Bookmark

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — North Carolina state government does a poor job of keeping track of whether information technology projects are actually saving money, State Auditor Beth Wood's office said Tuesday.

The new audit looked at nine major information technology projects at five state agencies. The projects were supposed to save money, but because of poor tracking by state agencies, North Carolina has no idea whether it's getting any return on its technology investment.

The performance audit was the latest in a series of reports from Wood's office highlighting shortcomings on how state government builds or manages its computer systems.

"It cannot be determined whether the state reached the expected $1.2 billion return on investment the audited agencies used to help justify the expense of their information technology projects. Achieved monetary benefits of major IT projects were not tracked," the audit said.

Part of the problem is that state agencies have received little direction about the information technology projects.

"Officials from the agencies that participated in this audit said that the lack of guidance from major oversight agencies contributed to their failure to track the achieved monetary benefits of major IT project in a consistent manner," the audit said.

"Consequently, state agencies, as well as the General Assembly and governor, lack complete and reliable data" about the issue.

In one case, the state Board of Elections paid a vendor nearly $1 million to replace the state's system of storing and reporting campaign information, but the work was never done, the audit said.

The state spends $3 billion every two years on IT product and services, according to the audit. The Chief Information Officer, the Office of State Budget and Management and other agencies "play a role, while not clearly defined, in the management of the state's IT enterprise."

The report recommended that lawmakers clearly define the CIO's role.

Gov. Pat McCrory's administration has asked lawmakers to create a Cabinet-level information technology department to better control state computer projects historically marked by delays, cost overruns and programs that missed expectations.

The proposed Department of Information Technology would improve accountability with project development and lead to greater efficiencies by using compatible software and system across agencies, Chris Estes, the state's CIO, told a General Assembly oversight committee late last year.

That should lead to a more streamlined online experience for the public while performing transactions with state government, Estes said. For example, someone who wants to start a business now must go to at least six state websites with varying levels of interaction, he said.

A series of high-profile projects for Medicaid, food stamps, public education and tax return processing required more funds than budgeted, aren't working as planned or were halted altogether. And there are redundant programs throughout state government.

McCrory has made overhauling information technology services and its interface with the public a priority. A performance review of information technology projects by Wood's office released shortly after McCrory took office in 2013 essentially determined 74 percent of them exceeded their planned budget and schedule.

Think your friends should see this? Share it with them!

Story copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Feedback, Corrections and Other Requests: AP welcomes feedback and comments from readers. Send an email to info@ap.org and it will be forwarded to the appropriate editor or reporter.


We also have more stories about:
(click the phrases to see a list)

Category:

Follow The Republic:

All content copyright ©2015 The Republic, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.
All rights reserved. Privacy policy.