• CROS Project Director Blasts Tech Oversight Agency for $3 Million Procurement Delay

    July 16th, 2015 by admin Categories: Blogs Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

    Warns that CalTech interference will increase likelihood of implementation schedule slippage, project cost escalation, even leading “down the road to another failed state IT project.”

    Some may consider the cost of this delay just a deck chair on the Titanic, as the currently budgeted $309 million dollar Centralized Revenue Opportunity System (CROS) project is just finishing up its second year of an estimated four year procurement. (That’s right. The procurement alone will take four years.)

    However, this SacBee interview with Eric Steen, CROS Project Director and recent guest along with BOE CIO Brenda Fleming on TechLeader.TV perhaps sheds greater light on the state “control agencies” in general, and the Department of Technology (CalTech), in particular. Add the irony that CalTech this week will launch its Project Approval Lifecycle (PAL) Policy with much fanfare. PAL is heralded to improve the quality, value and likelihood of success for information technology (IT) projects undertaken by the State of California. PAL festivities on Friday at 1500 Capitol Mall at 10:30 AM will include a presentation on how the Department of Technology has reformed its review and evaluation process for IT projects – with keynotes from Government Operations Agency Secretary Marybel Batjer and CalTech Director Carlos Ramos. And yes, it’s Invitation Only. And “No”, Eric Steen was not invited?

    Perhaps here’s why:

    Steen called out Department of Technology officials, including Director Carlos Ramos, for requiring the CROS team to submit a long-term planning schedule before the project could pick a private-sector contractor. In Steen’s view, the demand made no sense and needlessly delayed the project for four months.

    Since salaries and other expenses are running at about $700,000 per month, Steen said, holding back until October adds $2.8 million to the CROS project’s total cost.

    Besides, he added, the CROS team had submitted seven such schedules in the last year – including two in June. The last one was 34 pages, he said, but technology department authorities, who have the final say on state IT projects, still wanted more detail.

    The demand, he said, was akin to asking a homeowner for specifics about a second-floor addition to a house before settling on a contractor and drawing up blueprints for the work.

    “If this is a harbinger of what’s going to come during implementation, then it’s likely CROS is going to cost a lot more and take a lot more time than it ought to,” Steen told the board. “At best, this is a distraction. At worst, we go down the road to another failed state IT project.”

    After hearing Steen’s assessment, Republican board member George Runner was on his side. He joked, “I guess that’s why they call them ‘control agencies’ and not ‘assist agencies.’ ”

    Department of Technology spokeswoman Teala Schaff said Steen has it backward. The planning requirement aims to avoid unanticipated problems down the line that have hobbled other state IT initiatives.

    Full story here: He’s the ‘throat to choke’ if California tax agency’s IT project fails


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