LIVE session coverage...
SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax      Advertise Here      Mobile Version     Exclusive Subscriber Content     Updated Posts    Contact
CapitolFax.com
To subscribe to Capitol Fax, click here.
Today’s number: $2 million

Friday, Mar 28, 2014

* From an Illinois Auditor General’s report on the State Employees’ Retirement System

During our examination we noted that there were problems with the Modernization - Re-Engineering Project.

The project has been ongoing for five years, is only 20% complete, and over $2,000,000 has been expended by the State Retirement Systems collectively.

Due to staffing issues and the lack of a project management framework and the associated documentation, the project has not been fully implemented. In addition, formal documentation to provide detailed information on the current status and projected completion date is lacking.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


31 Comments
  1. - OneMan - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 10:35 am:

    Ongoing for 5 years and 20% complete…

    That is one way government is different, unless you are developing an OS or something in the private sector you can’t do a technology project over 5 years (no less be looking at a 25 year completion time frame at the current rate).

    Technology changes too much, heck even the ‘frameworks’ the audit references change over that period of time.

    Would be interested to see what the project scope and goals are (assuming they exist).


  2. - Weltschmerz - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 10:36 am:

    How do you start a project without a Preliminary System Design and who approved it?


  3. - Weltschmerz - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 10:37 am:

    OneMan - You couldn’t do it in my state division when I was there.


  4. - VanillaMan - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 10:39 am:

    Five years.
    No project management framework.
    No project management framework documentation.
    Project not fully implemented.
    No formal documentation to review regarding project status.
    No projected completion date.

    Holy mother of all things holy!

    It must be agonizing to work in the auditor general’s office and cover this kind of mismanagement, incompetence and maladministration.

    Disgraceful!


  5. - Demoralized - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 10:42 am:

    ==you can’t do a technology project over 5 years==

    I’ve seen my fair share of technology projects take several years to complete. It’s generally due to lack of staff, turnover of staff, lack of funding, and the convoluted contracting process that government must go through (i.e when you get through the process the technology you were going for may have been replaced by something a little better). I was involved in a technology procurement that took more than a year to complete from beginning to end.


  6. - PMcP - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 10:43 am:

    To be honest, depending on the system they’re on and the system they’re upgrading to, long change windows are going to happen. I’m assuming they’re still on an IBM OS (which IBM hasn’t been updated since the 90s) so those things take a while since you’re skipping generations of intermediate technology and the data sources aren’t easily convertible to Windows/Unix environments.

    That being said, you’d expect them to be near completion at this point, the five year window itself shouldn’t be too surprising, assuming the technology is as outdated as I’m guessing it is.


  7. - OneMan - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 10:52 am:

    Demoralized,

    Well then you are one up on me, 20 years in the industry and never saw anything take more than about 18 months (nothing even close to 5 years) and the 18 months was a complete redesign of a software package we sold.

    Even using this example, odds are your hardware specs have had to have been at least twice in 5 years. Your target OS will have likely gone through 2 major versions. If you are doing a web app you would have seen the option of the cloud come into play. If you are using a DB technology you would be on your third major version of most of the popular DB platforms in that time.

    Bottom line IMHO the audit makes sense if you are 5 years in and 20% done project planning at this point is likely like trying to nail jello to the wall.


  8. - PublicServant - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 10:53 am:

    Really hard to tell here. “Due to staffing issues…” means what exactly? A certain level of documentation is necessary, but in and of itself documentation, if not maintained, over time always becomes, well…a lie.

    Demoralized has it right.


  9. - cod - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 10:55 am:

    Honest pension reform would have addressed problems like this, instead of reneging on retiree’s pension contracts.

    Real reform has still not been done, but it is really needed to protect pensions from plunder.


  10. - Curmudgeon - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 11:12 am:

    Have to agree with Demoralized & COD on this. Been thru a fairly successful State “Re-engineering” project and have been in programs & agencies where projects stalled because the key people left, legislators or the “the Feds” or Gov’s office/central administration kept changing the parameters or the legislators or Gov;s office choked off the funding. The best comparison would be to the Navy’s procurement of new multi-function “brown water” ships, in which the specs and expected outcomes are constantly being revised. This is almost certainly NOT a “buy a new computer system & install it” technology project.


  11. - Norseman - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 11:14 am:

    OneMan, this is one of the differences between government and the private sector. Demoralized accurately states the issues that I’ve experienced as well. I was frustrated by it, but that is the way it is. Shortly before I retired, there was an IT project the director wanted to be completed in six months. Almost two years later, that project still has not been completed. Sad, but the results of the staff shortage and other factors mentioned by Demoralized.


  12. - Demoralized - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 11:20 am:

    @OneMan:

    I was just providing my personal experiences. Some get done quickly. Others don’t.


  13. - VanillaMan - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 11:33 am:

    Look at that again guys.

    This isn’t about spending $2 million on a project that is five years old.

    This is about spending $2 million on a project over the past five years that hasn’t even been given a project management framework!

    This is like spending $2 million on a house that hasn’t a blueprint, a contractor, or clue.

    This is shameful.


  14. - Walker - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 11:34 am:

    One Man, Norseman, Demoralized, et al, clearly right to criticize.

    Only specific I might add, is that I read “staffing problems and project management” to mean that the best tech people and project managers have been RIFed or turned over, as the number of state employees has dramatically shrunk in the same time period.

    I’ve heard that complaint in more than one state department. Great idea, almost no people to do it.


  15. - RetiredStateEmployee - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 11:39 am:

    Actually, the IT problems go back much further. I was there in 2005 and the in house system was so far out of date, there was no IBM support. They were beginning to convert the obsolete mainframe system to a PC system. There have been management problems even further back. No money for staff, no money for training and no money for upgraded hardware. I can’t believe it has taken this long for someone to notice the problems with this agency.


  16. - Sunshine - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 11:50 am:

    Take a look at some of the “old” system software still in place at DHS. A primary vendor, IBM, has created a nearly unsolvable situation in several agencies by their control and lack of focused and planned technology change.

    Top programmers have left or are leaving. What is happening at SERS isn’t at all unusual as it is like starting over every year. Long term technology planning in government is difficult at best; New rules, new programs, new platforms, new ideas from uninformed politicians, and no money.

    At least their investing for retirees appears to be doing moderately well.


  17. - RetiredContractor - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 11:58 am:

    After 15 years in the private sector, I was on contract to the state for a major project. Our first meeting with the state employees maintaining the current state system was a real shocker. One systems analyst spoke up that there was no need to change anything, she only had 13 years until she retired. Some of the other state employees agreed with her. These were IT staff! I was totally floored and found out later that they were only starting to do something because of the auditor general’s report of their current system. Their system was already a dinosaur and they stalled us at every opportunity. State management never supported the project. The project dragged on forever (or it just seemed like it.) I finally had enough and left.


  18. - DuPage - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 12:06 pm:

    Where did the $2,000,000 come from? Did they take it out of SERS pension fund money?


  19. - Jack Handy - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 12:18 pm:

    An auditor general’s report does not have the same impact on goverment union employees as a simple status report does to private sector employees.

    This will continue for another few years and then will probably be abandoned.


  20. - Plutocrat03 - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 12:41 pm:

    If there was a staffing problem, where did the $$ go.


  21. - Smitty Irving - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 12:55 pm:

    Knowing only what I’ve read in the news part of the post, this isn’t surprising. The State of California had trouble with their retirement system upgrade.
    http://blogs.sacbee.com/the_state_worker/2011/11/calpers-retirement-benefits-computers-pensions.html

    The Feds have tried, and failed, since the Reagan Administration to upgrade their system.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/national/2014/03/22/sinkhole-of-bureaucracy/

    Whatever other problems there were, government pensions, by their very nature, are difficult to write software for because of all the legislative “addons” that make programming very difficult. From the WaPo link: “The task takes so much time in part because Congress has made the federal retirement rules extremely complex.”


  22. - flea - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 12:58 pm:

    not surprising …CMS is in the lead on this project, right?


  23. - Curmudgeon - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 1:01 pm:

    Vanilla Man: “This is about spending $2 million on a project over the past five years that hasn’t even been given a project management framework!
    This is like spending $2 million on a house that hasn’t a blueprint, a contractor, or clue. This is shameful.”

    No, this is reality when you have to deal with different Governors bringing in different staff, changing agency directors with completely different “visions”, revolving door bureau/division management, and so on. Add to that Federal agencies (if your program is substantially Federally funded) who are pushing you to install a system that was developed for a substantially different state legal and operational structure and demand compliance with security protocols that are altogether different from what other Fed agencies are demanding, and all of which are difficult to reconcile with what CMS is trying to implement …

    In other words, you’re dealing with six different blueprints which are being revised annually by 3 different architects, and you’re dealing with 5 contractors, each of whom insists that he is the prime contractor.


  24. - Gantt Chart - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 1:09 pm:

    No, Flea…this one can’t be blamed on CMS. SERS has their own IT braintrust running the show.


  25. - Arthur Andersen - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 1:19 pm:

    Curmudgeon, your point is often valid, but I don’t think that fact pattern applies here.

    SERS has historically run a pretty lean staff, particularly in the areas not directly related to providing the pensions. That thrift, coupled with having to go through CMS and let us not forget all the pension law changes since 2009 that would impact IT, likely put them in this jam.

    Good folks running that shop. They just need a few more hands on deck.


  26. - Fiercely Independent - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 1:37 pm:

    Curmudgeon

    SERS is not under the Governor


  27. - Arthur Andersen - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 1:40 pm:

    My Bad. Retract the part “about having to go through CMS.”


  28. - Fiercely Independent - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 1:42 pm:

    Arthur Andersen

    Not being under the Governor’s office, SERS is not required to go through CMS for everything. They may be doing it, but they don’t have to.


  29. - Curmudgeon - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 2:36 pm:

    Yeah, I realize SERS isn’t under the Governor (for which I give thanks!), but when I wrote that response, I was thinking of state agency projects I’ve been involved in and gov’t projects IN GENERAL, be they high tech, low tech, or no tech involved at all.


  30. - Interesting priorities - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 3:23 pm:

    At least the project managers aren’t eating sandwiches at their desk, because they’d have to do something about that waste.
    http://capitolfax.com/2012/05/30/inspector-general-clouseau-strikes-again/


  31. - Confused - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 3:43 pm:

    Is this agency building a pension application from scratch? There are pension software packages!


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


* Illinois switches marketing gears
* December's quotable
* Pot, meet kettle
* Sign of the times?
* Exelon backs off closure threats for now
* Credit Unions – Cooperative in structure, valued in service
* Having it both ways
* No surprise, Trib is fully on board
* *** LIVE *** Session coverage
* Rauner again demanding Senate side with him over Madigan
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Good morning!
* Yesterday's blog posts

Support CapitolFax.com
Visit our advertisers...

...............

...............

...............

...............

...............

...............

...............

...............


Search This Blog...

Search the 98th General Assembly By Bill Number
(example: HB0001)

Search the 98th General Assembly By Keyword

          
        * Cloud computing growth in 2015 to be big says Xaiomi
        * Microsoft Band 2 expected for later this year
        * Go on a space adventure with Plancon: Space Conflict
        * Samsung improving exposure control on Galaxy S6 smartphones
        * Hands on with the Neo smartpen N2
        * HTC’s WF5w smartphone looks to be their thinnest device yet
        * Help Cortana solve her mystery

        * Magic Today Is Just Technology in the Future, Says Illusionist Marco Tempest
        * Netflix For Android TV Brings 4K Shows And Dolby Digital Pass-Through
        * Ultra Street Fighter IV For PS4 Riddled With Bugs
        * BuzzFeed Plans to Go Public Someday
        * Your Roommate Doesn't Need to Be Your Best Friend
        * SpaceX Certified To Conduct Space Missions For The Military
        * BuzzFeed Won’t Be a TV Network, but We Will See BuzzFeed on TV

        * MLB.TV unveils new Web-based media player
        * White Sox get a refresher course in lineup construction
        * White Sox fall late on walk-off home run
        * White Sox fall late on walk-off home run
        * Robertson bemoans pitch that led to blown save
        * Abreu has big night at plate against Toronto
        * Samardzija takes mound in matinee vs. Toronto

        ...............


        Main Menu
        Home
        Illinois
        YouTube
        Pundit rankings
        Obama
        Subscriber Content
        Durbin
        Burris
        Blagojevich Trial
        Advertising
        Updated Posts
        Polls

        Archives
        May 2015
        April 2015
        March 2015
        February 2015
        January 2015
        December 2014
        November 2014
        October 2014
        September 2014
        August 2014
        July 2014
        June 2014
        May 2014
        April 2014
        March 2014
        February 2014
        January 2014
        December 2013
        November 2013
        October 2013
        September 2013
        August 2013
        July 2013
        June 2013
        May 2013
        April 2013
        March 2013
        February 2013
        January 2013
        December 2012
        November 2012
        October 2012
        September 2012
        August 2012
        July 2012
        June 2012
        May 2012
        April 2012
        March 2012
        February 2012
        January 2012
        December 2011
        November 2011
        October 2011
        September 2011
        August 2011
        July 2011
        June 2011
        May 2011
        April 2011
        March 2011
        February 2011
        January 2011
        December 2010
        November 2010
        October 2010
        September 2010
        August 2010
        July 2010
        June 2010
        May 2010
        April 2010
        March 2010
        February 2010
        January 2010
        December 2009
        November 2009
        October 2009
        September 2009
        August 2009
        July 2009
        June 2009
        May 2009
        April 2009
        March 2009
        February 2009
        January 2009
        December 2008
        November 2008
        October 2008
        September 2008
        August 2008
        July 2008
        June 2008
        May 2008
        April 2008
        March 2008
        February 2008
        January 2008
        December 2007
        November 2007
        October 2007
        September 2007
        August 2007
        July 2007
        June 2007
        May 2007
        April 2007
        March 2007
        February 2007
        January 2007
        December 2006
        November 2006
        October 2006
        September 2006
        August 2006
        July 2006
        June 2006
        May 2006
        April 2006
        March 2006
        February 2006
        January 2006
        December 2005
        April 2005
        March 2005
        February 2005
        January 2005
        December 2004
        November 2004
        October 2004

        Blog*Spot Archives
        November 2005
        October 2005
        September 2005
        August 2005
        July 2005
        June 2005
        May 2005

        Syndication

        RSS Feed 2.0
        Comments RSS 2.0
        WordPress

        Loading


        * The Justices’ Majority Opinions at the Illinois.....
        * Rauner again demanding Senate side with him ove.....
        * Legislature takes up Gov. Rauner's proposed ref.....
        * No surprise, Trib is fully on board..
        * Factions at odds over right to work laws..
        * Marijuana facility in south-central Illinois hi.....
        * Sign of the times?..
        * Springfield neither shaken nor stirred by Exelo.....


        * Judge orders ex-Dixon comptroller to forfeit horse trophies
        * Illinois Legislature takes up governor's proposed reforms
        * Lawyer: Suburban Chicago man to plead guilty in terror case
        * Police: Child run over, killed by vehicle grandparent drove
        * Citations but no charges in Chicago boy's dog-mauling death
        * Illinois bill penalizes for leaving pets in extreme weather
        * Environmental groups sue over Illiana Tollway approval
        * New law means Uber can operate in Bloomington, Normal
        * Democrats show priorities as they advance 2016 budget plan
        * 911 tapes released about NFL defensive end Ray McDonald

        * Legislature takes up Gov. Rauner's proposed reforms
        * Democrats start passing parts of state budget; Republicans say it's phony
        * Democrats start passing parts of budget
        * Democrats show priorities as they advance 2016 budget plan
        * Bill expanding in-car blood-alcohol monitoring heads to governor
        * East St. Louis casino group to buy racetrack pending Illinois legislature's approval of slots
        * Rauner names new Illinois National Guard adjutant general
        * Student concussion bill passes Illinois House
        * Madigan: Democrats will pass their own budget; needs $3 billion in more revenue
        * Rauner spokesman rips Illinois Democrats for 'broken' budget

        * Northwestern med school snags $15 million grant to boost heart health
        * McDonald's to scrap monthly same-store sales reports
        * Tribune wastes no time slashing jobs in San Diego
        * Springfield neither shaken nor stirred by Exelon's nuke threats
        * Emanuel remakes his building team


          * Aurora man who's on the lam gets 20 years for drug possession
          * Lawyer: Aurora man to plead guilty to trying to join terror group
          * Weekend fest hopes to hook adults on science
          * Ex-Bull Brunson opts for Friday bench trial
          * 2 citations issued to owner of dog that mauled boy, 5, to death
          * Grandmother shot while sitting in home: 'I held her ... trying to keep her awake'
          * Woman hospitalized following Aurora blaze
          * Realignment of perilous Damen-Elston-Fullerton intersection to start Thursday
          * Restaurant apologizes for turning away vet with service dog
          * Man critically hurt, 4 injured in Will County crash


          * South Siders lobby for neighborhood promises in writing as Obama library takes shape
          * South Siders lobby for promises in writing as Obama library takes shape
          * Emanuel says no 'three-strike rule' over parks for Riot Fest
          * Charters might move into closed CPS schools
          * Democrats introduce proposed $36.3 billion budget for 2016
          * Chicago Bears' Ray McDonald arrested in domestic violence case
          * Bears release Ray McDonald after domestic violence arrest in California
          * The unsung hero of urban planning who made it easy to get around Chicago
          * Chicago school board to consider charter relocations, renewals
          * Vets' best friend: Two veterans trekking cross-country with the dogs that 'saved their lives'


          * Democrats start passing parts of state budget; Republicans say it's phony
          * Michael Gerson: Religious conservatives' shifting role
          * Dalitso Sulamoyo: LIHEAP fund raid would put poor lives at risk
          * Bill expanding in-car blood-alcohol monitoring heads to governor
          * East St. Louis casino group to buy racetrack pending Illinois legislature's approval of slots
          * Rauner names new Illinois National Guard adjutant general
          * Kathleen Parker: Who's the studliest of them all?
          * Student concussion bill passes Illinois House
          * Madigan: Democrats will pass their own budget; needs $3 billion in more revenue
          * U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk: Support free trade for Illinois farmers' sake


          * Lawyer: Suburban Chicago man to plead guilty in terror case
          * Illinois bill penalizes for leaving pets in extreme weather
          * Who's the next point guard?
          * Work on St. Louis river bridge to close downtown ramp
          * Daily Digest 5/27/15
          * Environmental groups sue over Illiana Tollway approval
          * McDonald's to stop reporting monthly sales figures
          * Punishing storms in Texas test government emergency response
          * EPA issues final rules protecting drinking water, streams
          * Reserved seating sells out


          * Hoffman Estates Wendy's, McDonald's getting upgrades
          * Gogo receives first FAA certificate for next generation Internet service
          * Vistec Electron Beam opens showroom in Schaumburg
          * Aurora CVB names new executive director
          * DuPage CVB nets top honors from trade magazine

          * Kinzinger outlines federal issues at Watse...
          * US Capitol Police Get a Lesson in Guns and...
          * Carbondale remembers fallen troops
          * Members of Congress: ISIS making gains
          * Capitol Police set for toilet training aft...
          * Rep. Bost Trade Enforcement act fights for...
          * Chuck Sweeny: Will Dems leave Capitol with...
          * Examining the tumult at Efland Cheeks School
          * Dold touts military spending bills in visi...
          * Local Congressman Warns Against Defense Sp...

          * Senators Durbin and Klubuchar lead push to......
          * Government investigation finds troops not ......

          * As Patriot Act's Chances Dim, Lawmakers Re......
          * Prospects dim for 11th-hour PATRIOT Act deal...
          * Mean Sen. Joni Ernst Takes Castratin’ Knif......

          * Illinois Renters Must Earn $18.78 Hourly To Afford A Two-Bedroom Apartment, Report Finds
          * Five Major Banks To Pay $5.6B In Fines Over Market Rigging Scandal
          * Brookins' Ex-Aide Says Chicago Alderman Was Feds' 'Initial Target'
          * Illiana Tollway Approval Facing Legal Challenge From Environmental Groups
          * U.S. EPA Finalizes Clean Water Rule
          * Kinzinger pushes to eradicate ISIS threat
          * Illinois Democrats vote nine times to support budget nearly $4 billion underfunded
          * Democrat Hoffman presents workers' comp reforms to be rejected by House
          * New Gallup Poll shows for first time, the Left and Right tie on social ideology
          * “The Driver’s Side” – News From The Motorist’s Perspective


          * Gulf War Veteran Reports for Duty as IDVA Women Vets Coordinator, Vet Business Champion
          * Illinois EPA Pollution Prevention Interns begin Twelve Week Program at Illinois Facilities - Students find cost-effective approaches for reducing environmental impacts
          * Vietnam Veteran Confirmed as IDVA Assistant Director
          * The Illinois Department of Public Health Urges Illinoisans to Take Precautions Against West Nile Virus - Illinois Department of Public Health offers tips for avoiding mosquito bites
          * Governor Announces Appointments




              Hosted by MCS SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax Advertise Here Mobile Version Contact Rich Miller