$50 Million of Frustration

By: Brian Johnson Email
By: Brian Johnson Email

The state responded Friday to Thursday's Auditor General's reported that found a $50 million dollar project filled with all kinds of errors. A spokesperson for the Department of Technology, Management, and Budget called the project a "failure," but said the state is committed to fixing what went wrong. What was supposed to be a five year contract has turned into a nine-year-long ordeal, and the project isn't even closed to finished.

It started as a $50 million dollar contract to upgrade and modernize the states billing and data processing. The original contract started in 2003 and was supposed to last 5 years. Four years past due, the project isn't complete and the state is out the money.

"I don't think we can argue the fact that this have been a failure," said Kurt Weiss, the director of communications for the Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget. "I mean, we have had some large IT projects in the state, anytime you do a large IT project, it's a difficult endeavor, there's no question about that."

The project is called "BAM" for "Business Application Modernization." It was a joint venture of the Department of State and the Department of Technology, Management and Budget. The goal was to bring computer programs out of the 1960s and into the 21st century.

"To say that the BAM project has been a success, that I think would be a stretch," said Weiss. "I think we would certainly classify it as a failed it project. But we are getting there."

If the project isn't finished, what did the $50 million dollars buy?

"The biggest thing we have to show is the ExpressSOS.com," said Weiss. "That's the online tool that citizens can go to to use to for express service for their renewal of license plates and that sort of thing."

The new site launched during October 2011. To date, 1 million customers have used the site. But some voters expect more.

"To not finish a project inside the time frame and to almost double the time frame and still not be finished and not have the funds to finish, it's not acceptable," said Justen Sharpe, a Okemos resident.

While the new Secretary of State website is up and running, the back end of updating computer systems is far from completed.

"The state is very committed to delivering the BAM project, to seeing it through, to making sure that we finish this off," said Weiss. "We agree with the findings but again, the new administration is very focused on getting this done right."

The state is currently in negotiations with the project vender, HP to finish the project and address the more than $12 million dollars it owes in late fees. Weiss, said the negotiations should finished sometime in August and then the state will establish a new project completion date.

To view the complete Auditor General's Report follow the link below.
http://www.audgen.michigan.gov/finalpdfs/11_12/r231059011.pdf


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