Two Curiousities

In a Peter Bacque update in the Times-Dispatch on the Virginia-CGI software deal, I found two things that struck me as curious.

The state is about to buy $300 million in enterprise software from CGI, the big Canadian firm. CGI has said that by “improving the collection of overdue bills and maximizing federal revenues … it can bring in an extra $500 million for the state in seven years and also save the government an additional $125 million.” Wow! But check the reaction of Tim Bass, state enterprise applications program director:

“We’re skeptical of that,” Bass said. “We do a great job of [cost recovery and collections] already. The numbers they have floated around are in no way, shape or form endorsed by the commonwealth.

“It’s not like we see some huge pot of gold out there,” he said.

Maybe it’s just me, but aren’t unrealistic claims by a vendor a big red flag? Is the state skeptical of anything else?

The second curiousity for me stems from Virginia having been named the “best managed” state in the union earlier this year. According to Bacque’s story, look at what Virginia has to overcome to manage itself:

State agencies currently run more than 150 financial computer systems, over 100 different accounting systems, at least 18 purchasing and supply IT systems, more than 50 computerized personnel systems, and more than 60 administrative IT systems.

This number may be accurate in a technical sense, but I’ve no doubt that it’s closer to one of those “bureaucratic legends” that float around, like Gov. Warner’s claim early in his term that the state buys computers from 30 different vendors (my agency’s IT guy snorted when he heard that one), or the claim that there are 60 different worker training programs in the state (try to access that list).

If Virginia is doing such a great job of cost recovery and collections, plus managing itself so well despite all those different systems, do we really need to throw everything overboard for one CGI solution? Just asking.

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3 responses to “Two Curiousities”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    I wonder if they are counting things like individual excel spreadsheets as “systems”. It seems they would almost have to be to come up with such high numbers. It will be interesting to see what the state is getting for $30 million. That number doesn’t seem high enough for a truly integrated version of all the big systems. I wouldn’t even imagine that would cover the licenses for the servers and users and the conversion of existing data. Then again, I could be very wrong. A few red flags for me as well.

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    Oops, sorry. I was reading $30 million. S/B $300 million. The $30 M was the start up money. $300 M is high enough for just about any system I would say.

  3. VITA’s worst case figures almost always include the public colleges and universities…someday they hope to bring them into the fold..even though financially there would be little to no benefit the colleges.

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