House Appropriations Committee approves proposals
A multi-faceted plan generated from work done by state Rep. Mark Huizenga today was unanimously approved in a vote by the House Appropriations Committee.
The proposals aim to implement newer, more effective practices within state information technology (IT) projects to be more effective with the taxpayer dollars that fund them.
“I’m pleased to see these bills moving to the House floor,” said Huizenga, of Walker. “A lot of work was put in on both sides of the aisle to address issues that had come up regarding state IT projects. As a result, we feel we have a plan that will implement best practices and ensure taxpayers are getting the best service for what they’re paying for – a fundamental principle in state government.”
Huizenga chaired a bipartisan task force exploring a concerning trend of spending overruns and inefficiencies plaguing IT projects. The group developed a report which Huizenga shared with the committee before the legislation was introduced.
In the presentation, Huizenga noted a few examples that led to the task force’s formation. 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.
The first-term legislator noted such inefficiencies can lead to a ripple effect with spending – requiring more money to address an issue that otherwise could have been used to support needs such as roads, schools and public safety.
Huizenga’s plan, House Bill 5053, establishes “clawback” provisions to help hold contractors accountable. The change will call for money to be repaid or other penalties to be implemented if a contractor fails to deliver on contractual obligations related to project completion and performance.
House Bills 5492-95 also address general oversight and transparency, as well as standardizing accounting practices, terminology and management on IT projects throughout state departments.