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Report raises concerns about lack of staff for computer upgrade

January 9, 2013 |  8:05 am

An overdue plan for California to overhaul the payroll system for state workers isn’t the only computer project that has run into trouble in Sacramento.

A new system for handling the state's finances has also fallen years behind schedule while its budget has increased dramatically. Known as FI$Cal, the project is supposed to integrate the state's outdated systems for budgeting and contracting.

The state auditor released a new report on Tuesday raising concerns about the lack of qualified staff for the overhaul. Twenty-two percent of the project's 221 full-time positions were vacant.

"Furthermore, the project has continued to experience turnover in key management positions," the report said, leaving "a lack of strong, permanent leadership."

Barbara Taylor, the project executive, said officials share the auditor's concerns about staffing, but believe the problem has been "somewhat overstated." Some positions were authorized only recently, she said.

"We can report a steady increase in hiring and continue to pursue highly skilled candidates," Taylor said in a statement. 

The project began in 2005 with a $140-million price tag, but has grown dramatically in scope and the cost estimate ballooned to $1.6 billion, according to an April 2012 report from the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office.

After changes, the project is now estimated to cost $616.8 million and be finished in July 2016.


State needs new computer system, report says

Overhaul of California government payroll system at risk

State remains hampered by outmoded, unreliable computer systems

-- Chris Megerian in Sacramento