- Associated Press - Friday, October 3, 2014

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Department of Revenue’s overhaul of the state’s computer operations was not managed properly by the state or the 3M Company hired to install it, resulting in a motor vehicle network plagued by technical problems and a delayed new driver’s license system, according to an audit.

The Legislative Division of Post Audit’s findings released Thursday to a joint Legislative oversight committee reviewed the overhaul begun in 2009, which has cost the state $34 million so far, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported (http://bit.ly/1vioXUZ ).

State revenue department staff did not properly oversee the project and 3M did not come close to delivering what was promised, said Laurel Murdie, who led the audit. The state ended its contract with 3M in May and withheld $2 million from the company, but it did pay 3M nearly $20 million before those steps were taken.

The plan was to consolidate three information systems into a single network to process motor vehicle titles and registrations and track and issue drivers’ licenses. When the first phase was introduced in May 2012, hours-long delays were reported at county offices, caused by slow processing, corrupted data files and nearly constant disconnections from the system.

Auditors estimated those problems cost the state an extra $2 million to $2.5 million.

Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan told the committee that converting the state’s vehicle and license document connections with 105 counties was more complex than anticipated. He also noted the project started during the administration of former Democratic Gov. Mark Parkinson, who completed the term of Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

“This is two KDOR administrations who implemented this project,” Jordan said. “The milestones, the benchmarks were made in a prior KDOR administration. I’m not saying that to point fingers. I just want to be clear there are two administrations that have been involved in this system, not just one.”

Executives with 3M declined to be interviewed by auditors for the report.

A review conducted by the Kansas Adjutant General’s Office in 2013 that found the state agency “did a poor job of managing the project,” the audit said.

The second phase involving issuing driver’s licenses was to have been ready in January 2012, but Jordan said the revenue department took over the work and would unveil that system in November 2015.

Auditors noted the project hadn’t had a project director since July 2013, when an employee was assigned to work part time on oversight of the project. Jordan said a full-time staff member was hired to work on phase two. In addition, the report said that before May 2012,the revenue department had stopped securing external, independent risk assessments required of state information technology projects costing more than $10 million.

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Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, http://www.cjonline.com

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