Poor Oversight Hinders Calif. IT Projects, Doc Licensing System
Many of California's IT projects, including a computer system designed to process online applications and renewals for health care providers, have been hindered by a lack of oversight from the state Department of Technology, according to a state audit released Thursday, the Los Angeles Times' "PolitiCal" reports (McGreevy, "PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 3/19).
Background on Licensing System
The state Department of Consumer Affairs-managed online portal for licensing and enforcement, called BreEZe, was designed to improve efficiency for licensing boards and bureaus.
The state Board of Registered Nursing and nine additional agencies have been using the system since October 2013. Shortly after its launch, the system had about 1,700 defects, according to a separate audit released last month (California Healthline, 2/26).
The latest audit found that California currently has 45 IT projects underway, six of which have total costs of more than $575 million and are facing issues that are negatively affecting their progress ("PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 3/19). In addition, the state between 1994 and 2013 spent $985 million on seven projects that were eventually terminated or suspended (Ortiz, "The State Worker," Sacramento Bee, 3/19).
According to the audit, CalTech's projects have been hindered by:
- A lack of guidance for ending or correcting troubled projects; and
- Staffing turnover issues ("PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 3/19).
For example, the audit states that technology officials could have halted funding for BreEZe after the project failed to disclose a schedule for its beginning stages. However, the audit noted that officials overlooked the issue and allowed the project to resume. The audit found that the project's budget now is on pace to reach more than triple its original $27 million budget ("State Worker," Sacramento Bee, 3/19).
The audit classified CalTech's oversight as "high-risk" and recommended that the agency:
- Continue efforts to address staffing issues;
- Develop criteria to determine how and when to intervene in troubled projects to stop them from continuing uncorrected; and
- Develop policies to maintain the independent project oversight analysts' independence, track oversight actions and ensure accurate reporting (Audit fact sheet, 3/19).
According to the audit, CalTech agreed with the recommendations (Audit, 3/19).
Specifically, CalTech Director Carlos Ramos in a response letter included in the audit said that the agency is aware of the issues and working to correct them. For example, he noted that the agency is:
- Adding new staff training; and
- Changing the way projects are approved.
He said, "CalTech is committed to continue to improve the services associated with the successful delivery of information technology" ("PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 3/19).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.