- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 1, 2009

BATON ROUGE, LA. (AP) - A planned $102 million upgrade to state government computer systems has been stalled by Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration because of Louisiana’s money woes, the governor’s top budget adviser said Tuesday.

Commissioner of Administration Angele Davis said the project _ once touted by administration officials as critical to avoid a system crash in some agencies _ is under review and isn’t included in the governor’s 2009-10 budget proposal.

“I think it is a matter of weighing priorities,” Davis said when asked Tuesday about the computer project.

The upgrade would mean state departments _ everything from the transportation department to the health department _ use one computer system to do their budget, accounting, state purchasing, inventory, contracting and facility management work. Currently, that data is spread across more than 15 different computer systems.

More than $31 million has been spent so far on the upgrade work, according to Davis’ office. It wasn’t immediately clear Tuesday whether any of that work was usable without further spending or what would happen to the remainder of the $60 million contract awarded for the project during former Gov. Kathleen Blanco administration.

Last year, in testimony before a legislative committee, Jindal administration officials described the planned new system as a way to improve government efficiency and replace outdated computer systems that were at risk of failure. Lawmakers questioned the need for the spending.

On Tuesday, Davis said her staff was reviewing the computer upgrade and was looking for possible funding sources for part or all of the project.

“It is needed, but can you continue to move the project forward in a year such as this, when we have fiscal constraints?” she said. “It would be irresponsible not to review it.”

Louisiana is expected to bring in $1.3 billion less in state general fund revenue in the new budget year that begins July 1 than the state had to spend this year. The governor has recommended an array of spending cuts to keep next year’s budget in balance.

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