The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

February 14, 2013
Column Extra: California's new IT task force, explained

20111102_ha_JOHN_CHIANG_0341.JPGWith just 400 to 450 words for our weekly State Worker column, most of what we learn each week never sees print. Column Extras give you some of the notes, the quotes and the observations that inform what's published.

Our column today takes a look at Controller John Chiang's decision to ax a $250 million payroll system upgrade program. We wondered what it says about the MyCalPays project and California's 30-year trail of information technology failures, a path paved with hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money.

So we asked Chiang spokesman Jacob Roper what lessons have been learned from the payroll system saga, a project inherited from former Controller Steve Westly. Here's Roper's emailed response and more info about a new state IT task force commissioned by the controller and Gov. Jerry Brown:

The lesson - when the State hires a private sector vendor to provide a service or deliver a product, how does it hold the company accountable for its promises?

This is something the Controller and the Governor have been working on for some time. For more than two months, a task force of public and private sector experts - assembled by the Controller and Governor, have been meeting to answer the question of how the right vendors can be hired at the best price and what reforms are needed to hold those vendors accountable for their performance. Their answers are coming soon - first they will issue a report on procurement reform, and second they will answer what tools are necessary to hold private sector vendors accountable.

SAP's contract termination was yet another chapter in a 30 year history of delays and cost-overruns plaguing the State's IT procurements. With the reform efforts of the task force assembled by the Governor and Controller, we will help establish California's leadership in public IT infrastructure, reduce the risks that the State has faced over the last three decades, and earn the confidence of the public that their investment in public IT infrastructure projects is protected.

Task Force Mission Statement Nov. 16, 2012 by

Task Force Members by

PHOTO CREDIT: State Controller John Chiang talks with The Bee's Capitol Bureau on Nov. 2, 2011. Hector Amezcua, Sacramento Bee 2011 file

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at


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