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Key government software upgrade falling significantly behind schedule

– Secretary of State Gessler asks Governor to push back “go-live” deadline

The state’s implementation of a new accounting and finance tracking software system to replace a decades-old software program is significantly behind schedule, and a notable critic says morale within the Office of Information Technology (OIT) is lagging just as badly as the delays continue to mount.

Under the Colorado Open Records Act, CompleteColorado.com obtained two progress reports for the “CORE” project – Colorado Operations Resource Engine – both of which show the “Project Delivery Confidence Level” sinking from green to red over the last six months. Additionally, in the span between the February and March reports, only two percent progress was made, nudging up from 63 to 65 percent complete.  A recent progress report from OIT red flagged the overall status of the project, noting that the project is in a “reactive (as opposed to proactive) mode of operation.”

Until March of this year, implementation was moving along at an average of four percent of the overall project per month. At that same point, about 35 percent remained, which essentially doubles the pace of implementation needed in order to meet the state’s July 1 deadline.

On May 6, Secretary of State Scott Gessler, also a candidate for the Republican nomination for Governor, sent a letter to Governor Hickenlooper and his staff outlining numerous concerns and asking the Governor to postpone the live roll-out, calling it a disaster in the making. “Neither I, nor my staff, see any likelihood that this project will be ready for the roll-out date,” Gessler wrote. “…[T]wo months ago there was no plan for recovery, and we have not seen anything to indicate that things have improved.” Gessler also cited worries about morale within OIT.

Sabrina D’Agosta, Communications Director for the Department of Personnel and Administration said the stakes to finish the conversion are high, but those involved with the implementation still have “every confidence” in their July 1 deadline.

“The CORE project leadership team is assessing readiness every two weeks. At the most recent meeting just last week, we found no reason to delay the rollout,” D’Agosta said. “Having said that, delaying the CORE implementation would extend the time period in which the State risks a catastrophic failure of COFRS (the old software system). If we delay the roll out of CORE and COFRS were to fail, it would mean having no way to record the state’s $29 billion in expenditure transactions, no way to pay vendors, no way to record payroll, no way to support collection of grant revenues of about $9 billion, no way to apply $8 billion of tax revenues to expenditures — to name just a few of the catastrophic repercussions. We have already experienced failures of the period 12 and 13 closes in 2012, and simply cannot afford to unnecessarily risk a failure of the State’s financial system.”

In his letter to Governor Hickenlooper, Secretary Gessler cited his concerns about system crashes and training limitations. Also in the letter, Gessler noted the loss of five senior managers at OIT within recent months, but D’Agosta says, “(n)one of the current or former personnel departures at OIT have or will have a negative impact on preparation or rollout of CORE.”

In addition to replacing the old “COFRS” software system which tracks about $29 billion in annual expenditures, the new CORE software will integrate procurement functions and capabilities.

“System integration, automated workflows and other business process improvements will greatly improve the State’s ability to better meet its long-standing commitment to fiscal discipline, financial accountability, government transparency, and cost beneficial controls in ways that are not possible in COFRS today,” D’Agosta said. While Gessler was critical of the implementation and the looming deadline, Gessler did praise the overall software project.

With Gessler’s letter to Hickenlooper, both sides are claiming to mitigate a risk for the state and taxpayers – Gessler saying rushing to a deadline is riskier than the administration’s claim that relying on the old system presents an almost daily risk of catastrophic failure.

SOS Gessler letter to Governor Hickenlooper re CORE

CORE Project Status Report MARCH

CORE OIT Project Status 5.9.14

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