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April 25, 2003

Grifting Another tale from the

Grifting

Another tale from the horror story that is out-sourcing.

A new $51 million accounting system being installed in community colleges across North Carolina is in such disarray that it cannot print routine monthly reports or track assets and cash.

State Auditor Ralph Campbell and State Controller Robert Powell have warned that the problems, unless fixed immediately, could eventually affect the state's bond rating, or creditworthiness.

So, North Carolina spent $51 million dollars of taxpayer money on an accounting system that can't count. The Research Triangle Park is known the world over as a technological bastion, yet our homegrown beauracrats paid a Texas company to install a Virginia product rather than hiring local talent to develop something. Local talent that, by the way, is suffering through the highest technological sector unemployment rate in the last 20 years. I'm sure they appreciate our leaders spending their money on a Texas boondoggle rather than say, hiring them to build a system.

By September, employees realized they could not deliver reports required by the state. They couldn't reconcile bank statements. They had to make calculations by hand or write new software to work around the system. Some employees quit in frustration, Campbell said.

Can't count. Can't issue reports. Can't reconcile bank statements. 50 million dollars down the drain, and we don't have the functionality that comes with a $50 copy of Quicken. On the positive side, some employees quit which would have helped out the state in its budget difficulties, if we hadn't pissed away 200 times what were paying them.

This is what happens when people who don't know shit about computers or software are put in charge of buying computers and software. If this had been done in-house, a team of ten or at most fifteen people could have developed and deployed a robust, not to mention working system for a fifth of what Texas burned us for, and that's if you pay the team the equivalent of 1999 tech salaries. It's an accounting system, for god's sake, spread over a WAN instead of a LAN. It's not like writing a software model for protein-folding; it's ground that has been covered numerous times, by thousands of programmers. Yet some clueless drone deep in an office in Raleigh fell for the siren song of an outsourcer and here we are a few years and fifty mil later, with the software equivalent of a one-legged dog.

They can fix it for another million dollars, they say. We can make that dog hunt.

Sure they can.

Posted by Bigwig at April 25, 2003 08:19 PM | TrackBack
Postscript:
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