NC auditor finds 84 state-run IT projects over budget, late
Expert: State officials face a 'rat's nest' of work to fix IT project planning problems
IDG News Service - Scores of IT projects being conducted by North Carolina's government are racking up higher-than-expected costs and going far beyond their planned schedules, a new report by the state's auditor has found.
Auditor Beth Wood's office surveyed 84 IT projects in the state and found that on average, the actual costs were more than double the original estimates and they took 65 percent longer than planned to complete, according to the audit released this week.
The cost overruns totaled $356.3 million, according to the report.
While restrained in its tone, the audit paints a portrait of dysfunction and lack of oversight associated with the state's IT projects.
For one thing, the Office of Information Technology Services doesn't have a standard method state agencies can use to develop project estimates, according to the report. Nor are there any policies that provide for independent verification of a project estimate after it's made.
In addition, "state agency managers are not required to manage IT projects so that the projects meet the initial cost or schedule estimates that are submitted," the report adds.
The office also doesn't have any measures in place to ensure that it has accurate and complete data regarding IT project oversight. For example, the 84 implementations were chosen because out of more than 1,000 projects contained in the state's IT project portfolio management software, they were the only ones that had the "original cost and schedule estimate data" needed for an audit.
However, the ITS office may be hamstrung in one way, given that it "may not have the authority it needs to ensure that state agencies submit project status reports in a timely manner," the report states.
In a response attached to the report, ITS officials said they agreed with the findings and would work on improvements, including the requirement that state agencies get independent analyses of their project estimates.
But it stopped short of endorsing the auditor's suggestion that ITS ask the legislature pass a law holding state agency managers accountable for meeting budget and schedule estimates, saying instead that "a possible solution is better reporting and enforcement of existing law."
Overall, the audit presents a mixed bag for North Carolina, according to one observer.
"The report is basically saying that the finger to the wind method of estimating projects is not working," said analyst Michael Krigsman, CEO of Asuret and an expert on why IT projects struggle and even fail.
Meanwhile, the apparent willingness by ITS to seek reforms is "a double-edged sword," Krigsman said. "It means [ITS] has been lacking but also means they recognize and accept there's a problem. The lack of defensiveness is very positive."
The question now is what steps North Carolina can take to right the ship. Simply hiring independent people to validate estimates won't solve the problem, Krigsman said. "The difficult part is uncovering the information that's needed in order to make an accurate estimate. That's where you get a rat's nest."
Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com
- 18 Hot IT Certifications for 2014
- CIOs Opting for IT Contractors Over Hiring Full-Time Staff
- 12 Best Free iOS 7 Holiday Shopping Apps
- For CMOs Big Data Can Lead to Big Profits
- Slideshow: 5 ways to lock down your mobile device
- Slideshow: 10 mistakes companies make after a data breach
- How to rob a bank: A social engineering walk through
- Which smartphone is the most secure?
If you think getting it right from day one is always what matters, you probably haven't been following technology too closely.
- IT Certification Study Tips
- Register for this Computerworld Insider Study Tip guide and gain access to hundreds of premium content articles, cheat sheets, product reviews and more.
- Bring Networks and Applications Closer--Cisco ONE
- A series of sweeping trends is placing new requirements on the tried-and-true network model--requiring network infrastructure and applications to communicate. Get the open...
- Lippis Research Reviews the Cisco Catalyst 2960-X
- In this Lippis Report Research Note, Lippis Research reviews the latest edition of the "most popular access switch on the planet" -- the...
- Design Guide--Scaling Up to a Campus-Wide LAN
- Is it time to scale your network environment to a campus wired LAN? Here's the framework you need to set up your LAN...
- Comprehensive Security: Cisco Catalyst 2960 Series
- With a rich and comprehensive set of security features, Cisco Catalyst 2960-X and 2960-XR Series Switches can help you address networking megatrends such...
- Be Energy Efficient--The Cisco Catalyst 2960 Series
- How much energy could be saved if all 230 million Layer 2 and 3 fixed managed switch ports sold in 2012 were as... All Government IT White Papers
- Modernizing SAP environments with minimum risk - a path to Big Data Hear from top IDC analyst, Richard Villars, about the path you can start taking now to enable your organization to get the benefits...
- Vblock™ Specialized System for SAP HANA® Overview video from DJ Long about the new Vblock Specialized System for SAP HANA®.
- The Power of the Citrix Mobility Solution, XenMobile Does everything become a smartphone? Or does the smartphone begin to do everything? How can we afford to support BYOD? Rather, how can...
- BYOD Happens: How to Secure Mobility How to navigate the journey of securing mobility, including the BYOD corruption of IT, the top ten mobility strategies, and the mobility management...
- Fighting Fraud Videos: IBM Intelligent Investigation Manager Short videos about IBM Intelligent Investigation Manager (IIM) for Fraud. IIM optimizes the investigation of fraud for customers across many industries in both...
- All Government IT Webcasts
Does your organization offer extensive benefits, cool perks, competitive salaries, opportunities for training and advancement? Then get it recognized!
Nominate your company or another deserving organization for Computerworld's 2014 Best Places to Work in IT list now through Dec. 20, 2013.