Rep. Shane Hernandez – chair of the Michigan House Appropriations Committee – today appointed a bipartisan special task force to investigate and help resolve cost overruns and inefficiencies plaguing state information technology projects.
“The list of the state’s information technology failures is long and inexcusable,” said Hernandez, of Port Huron. “Cost overruns waste taxpayer money and ineffective systems compromise public services. This special task force will work with state departments and vendors to ask the tough questions and find answers that will result in better, more cost-effective systems in the future.”
State departments too often start IT projects that cost more and perform worse than expected, with lax oversight. A Department of Health and Human Services system related to tracking child abuse and neglect cases, for example, has received $231 million in the past several years and still has persistent and significant defects. About 40,000 Michigan residents were victimized and wrongfully accused of fraud between 2013 and 2015 by a faulty computer system used by the Unemployment Insurance Agency. A failed Secretary of State computer system overhaul started in 2005 resulted in service issues, lawsuits and cost overruns – and it’s still not finished.
“The money associated with these cost overruns could have been invested in roads and infrastructure, schools and other services,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez appointed Rep. Mark Huizenga of Walker to chair the task force. Its members will include Rep. Annette Glenn of Williams Township, Rep. Mary Whiteford of Casco Township, Rep. Terry Sabo of Muskegon and Rep. Abdullah Hammoud of Dearborn.
Hernandez is pushing for 25-percent spending reductions in state department information technology budgets as part in the state’s upcoming plan for Fiscal Year 2019-20. The goal is to bring state departments to the table prepared to truly document and justify their IT needs with real numbers and evidence. The task force builds on that effort by helping find solutions and efficiencies while holding state departments accountable for overspending.
“I take the Legislature’s oversight responsibility of state departments very seriously,” Hernandez said. “This is another way to hold government accountable and make sure we are making the right long-term decisions for Michigan taxpayers and families.”