The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

July 31, 2013
California IT snapshot: The failed state payroll overhaul

After test runs failed miserably, state Controller John Chiang earlier this year suspended plans to shift the state's patchwork employee payroll system into a single, nimble program.

But the Human Resources Management System -- dubbed "MyCalPays" and, before that, the "21st Century Project" -- remains on the Department of Technology's tracking list, so we're including it as No. 8 on our list of California's 10 most-expensive IT projects:

Name: Human Resources Management System
Department: State Controller' s Office
Total estimated cost: $ 371 million
Amount spent: Roughly $250 million
Percent of project complete: NA
Estimated time frame: 2003-2004 to 2012-2013 (8.7 years)

What was it supposed to do? Replace the state payroll system that has been paying employees since the Vietnam War era.

The official line: "The State Controller's Office proposes to design, develop and implement an integrated HRMS/Payroll system, called MyCalPAYS in order to modernize the State of California payroll system that pays approximately 294,000 employees."

Red flags: Pilot program launch had numerous errors including under- and over-paying employees, taking incorrect deductions and making late payments.

This is the third installment in a series of daily posts looking at California's 10 most-expensive state computer projects as listed on the Department of Technology's website.

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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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