January 8, 2020 - This report analyzes how the most recent project plan for the Financial Information System for California (FI$Cal) information technology (IT) project—that has been under development since 2005—changes the project's cost, scope, and schedule. We also discuss what work is anticipated to remain even after the project is deemed by the administration to be "complete." Lastly, we make associated findings and recommendations.
June 27, 2019 - Assembly Accountability and Administrative Review and Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 6 on Budget Process, Oversight and Program Evaluation
February 9, 2017 - Presented to Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee
March 10, 2016 - In this report, we describe the FI$Cal Project, provide an update on the project’s status, and describe the events that triggered the development of a sixth special project report (SPR 6). We also describe the Governor’s 2016–17 budget proposals to: (1) allow the project to implement the changes proposed in SPR 6 and (2) establish a new state department to maintain and operate the FI$Cal System. Finally, we make associated findings and recommendations.
March 26, 2014 - In January 2014, the FI$Cal Project submitted, and the Department of Technology approved, special project report (SPR) 5, which updates the project plans. The SPR 5 includes changes in the project's scope, implementation schedule, and future staffing levels. In this report, we find that SPR 5 reduces overall project risk and make recommendations concerning (1) the project's annual reporting requirement to the Legislature and (2) recruitment and retention issues. Ultimately, we believe that the benefits of proceeding with FI$Cal development outweigh the inherent risks that remain, and therefore recommend approval of the Governor’s budget proposal that reflects a reasonable funding plan to implement the updated project plan (SPR 5).
February 28, 2017 - The State Controller’s Office (SCO) has recently renewed its effort to replace the state’s payroll system. In this year’s budget, the Governor proposes $3 million to begin an analysis of proposed alternatives for replacing the system. It makes sense for the state to assess the potential problems, both in terms of functionality and stability, with the state’s payroll system and to explore solutions to these problems. The appropriate selection of a project alternative will be critical to the success of the future payroll project. As such, we recommend the Legislature require the SCO to present its full findings from the alternatives analysis before it is granted additional funding for subsequent analyses. This would provide the Legislature with a clear opportunity to provide meaningful input and weigh in with its own priorities for the payroll system before a solution is procured.
February 20, 2020 - This report provides an overview of the proposed and approved IT projects in the Governor’s proposed 2020-21 budget. We first provide relevant background information on the state’s IT project approval process, approaches to development and implementation of projects once approved, maintenance and operation of IT systems once completed, and requirements for state government entities to request resources for projects through the budget process. We then identify and summarize the budget requests to plan proposed projects and to develop and implement projects (whether proposed or approved).
March 19, 2014 - In this report, we review the administration’s 2014-15 budget proposal to continue legal activities related to the suspended 21st Century Project (TFC). We find that the Governor’s 2014-15 budget proposes funding for outside legal counsel at roughly one-half of the State Controller's Office's (SCO) estimate of projected costs, and therefore recommend that the Legislature budget the full estimate instead. In addition, we find that an independent assessment of the TFC Project is a necessary precursor to addressing the state’s unmet need for an updated human resources management and payroll system. As the Governor's proposal lacks such an assessment, we recommend the Legislature appropriate additional resources to SCO for such an assessment. We provide details on what such an assessment should include.
February 17, 2017 - In recent years, the California Department of Technology has begun implementing a new IT project approval process—known as the Project Approval Lifecycle (PAL)—with the goal of helping to bolster project planning and reducing the likelihood of project challenges or failure. Although the PAL process has the potential to improve the quality of IT project implementation in theory, we raise a number of issues for the Legislature to consider as it exercises oversight of this new process. First, the merits of providing funding for IT project planning proposals should be determined on a case-by-case basis, and we note a few issues the Legislature may want to consider when determining whether to support a request for IT project planning funds. Additionally, we identify these funding requests for PAL-related planning activities as an early opportunity for the Legislature to weigh in on the potential project. Finally, we find that the Legislature could increase its oversight of the PAL process by (1) building in additional oversight methods when approving budget requests and (2) considering an evaluation of the actual benefits of the new project approval process.
April 30, 2012 - The FI$Cal project recently completed a procurement and selected the vendor who will build FI$Cal, the state's single, fully integrated financial information system. Project staff has submitted several documents to the Legislature, including a special project report that updates the project plans, a report to the legislature that includes information on the procurement, and a budget request for $89 million ($54 million General Fund) and 86 new positions in order to begin the first year of system development. This report (24 pages): (1) provides an extensive background on the project; (2) describes the innovative procurement process that state staff conducted to secure vendor services to build the FI$Cal system, including information on the procurement results; (3) reviews the FI$Cal project plans as explained in project documents; and (4) analyzes features of the project’s proposed plans and offers recommendations to the Legislature as it considers the budget request and the future of the system. Based upon our analysis of the proposed plans and review of project status, we believe that the benefits of proceeding with FI$Cal development at this time outweigh the costs of the project. In addition to the inherent benefits derived from having a modern, fully integrated financial information system for the state, proceeding with FI$Cal would also avoid substantial costs associated with replacing various individual financial management systems over the next several years. However, we recognize the tight budget times requiring the Legislature to make difficult decisions regarding programmatic reductions. Therefore, should the Legislature wish to proceed with the project, we offer alternative funding options that reduce the state’s reliance on General Fund monies to pay for the project in the short term. These options include the state's GS $Mart loan program, vendor financing, and advanced payments from the special funds for the first few years of system development. Additionally, we point out ways the project’s change management and staffing plans to implement FI$Cal statewide could be improved to reduce risk and maximize project benefits.
February 2, 2021 - This post discusses 2021-22 Governor’s Budget proposals for the State Controller’s Office and the California Department of Human Resources to continue planning a replacement for the state’s current payroll system—the proposed California State Payroll System information technology project.