Sunday, February 05, 2006

State's Computer Systems Audit

A legislator has proposed that the State's computer systems become the subject of an audit. Seems that some of them are expensive and don't really work too well.

Back in the days when Thompson was Governor, the Department of Administration (Jim Klauser, at the time) put its finger on the problem: the State's various Departments simply refused to standardize on one mainframe (3090-class IBM machine, e.g.) system and one database system. To arrive at this conclusion, the DoA had requested the input of about 10 of the best private-enterprise IS managers in the State--people who managed extremely large and highly efficient IS departments.

Their recommendations were never carried out. Thompson and Klauser lacked the will, or something.

DOT wanted to retain its IDMS database. DOR wanted to retain its IMS database (or whatever,) etc., etc., etc.

But it wasn't really the machines or databases which drove the decisions: it was the number of employees under the control of a Department, which translates to prestige and turf--not to mention budget dollars.

See, as long as each Department maintained its own peculiar combination of software and hardware, each Department had to have its own IS staff. Bodycount. Instead of one much more efficient centralized IS function (Milwaukee County is an example,) the State's top-dog bureaucrats wanted more people, which translates to more dollars.

The audit request may actually provide useful results. That's not the test. The test is whether the Legislature and the Executive have the will to force Department heads to standardize.

Any bets?

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