California's five biggest computer projects

jortiz@sacbee.comAugust 18, 2013 

Failed computer hardware and software overhauls for California’s payroll system and the Department of Motor Vehicles highlight the government’s challenge to exploit technology – and those multimillion-dollar boondoggles weren’t even the biggest projects on the the menu. Here are the five most costly IT projects in state government:


Financial Information System for California

What is it? A financial system for the entire state that will track all departments’ purchases of goods and services as well as keeping track of all bids and grant processes. Currently, the state’s vast government often operates like dozens of smaller governments. Many use separate computer systems developed decades ago to handle everything from payroll and procurement to caseload management and document tracking.

Department: Finance

Estimated cost: $617 million

Time frame: 11.9 years

The official line: “This project will replace the state’s aging and non-integrated financial systems with a single comprehensive financial application supporting the state’s fiscal and policy decision processes. The proposed solution is to implement an Enterprise Resource Planning application that will meet the state’s budget, accounting, and some procurement needs.”

2. EDR

Enterprise Data to Revenue Project

What is it? A new system to file and electronically validate state tax documents. It will also allow filers to submit taxes online, make payments and view previous tax returns in a way that feels more like handling an online bank account. Californians filed nearly 15.7 million state personal income tax returns last year.

Department: Franchise Tax Board

Estimated cost: $522 million

Time frame: 8 years

The official line: “This project is a major enterprise wide solution that will introduce a business process management system for the filing of tax returns in conjunction with expanded data capture of tax documents, enhanced validation of tax return information. The EDR will reduce the ‘tax gap’ and is anticipated to increase revenue up to $1 billion annually upon implementation.”

3. LRS

Los Angeles Eligibility, Automated Determination, Evaluation and Reporting Replacement System

What is it? An updated IT system for Los Angeles County to manage public assistance services, including CalWORKs, the CalFresh food program and others. Federal officials have said that the old Los Angeles system is inade- quate. A 2011 letter from federal welfare authorities said it “runs on unsupported hardware and is expensive to maintain.” Changes in federal health care law add another layer of complexity.

Department: Health and Human Services Agency

Estimated cost: $476 million

Time frame: 11.3 years

The official line: “Proposes to replace the existing Los Angeles Eligibility, Automated Determination, Evaluation and Reporting automated welfare system with newer technology. The new system will determine eligibility and benefits for a variety of public assistance programs for Los Angeles County.”


California Medicaid Management Information System

What is it? Replaces a 30-year-old system that sends out payments for goods and services rendered under Medi-Cal, the state’s version of the federal Medicaid program. The current system processes roughly 830,000 health provider claims per day, and weekly payments run at about $325 million for everything from doctor’s exams to prescription refills.

Department: Health Care Services

Estimated cost: $459 million (majority of cost covered by federal funds)

Time frame: 7.6 years The official line: “This service contract processes payments to health care providers of the Medi-Cal fee-for-service program, including physicians, pharmacies, hospitals and other providers under a new Fiscal Intermediary and includes replacement of the legacy system.”


Case Management, Information and Payrolling System II

What is it? A payroll- and case-tracking system for California’s in-home care programs, which pay out $4 billion per year for services to the elderly. The system they use for assigning those payments and tracking some 400,000 cases statewide is 25 years old.

Department: Health and Human Services Agency

Estimated cost: $424 million

Time frame: 14 years

The official line: “Proposes to replace the existing legacy Case Management, Information and Payrolling System (CMIPS I) that handles case management and payrolling services for caregivers providing In-Home Supportive Services for qualified aged, blind, and disabled individuals. … The legacy CMIPS has been in production since 1973, utilizes outdated technology, and lacks adequate system documentation.”

Call The Bee's Jon Ortiz, (916) 321-1043. Follow him on Twitter @thestateworker and read his blog, The State Worker.

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