Tag Archives: computers

TN computer problems have cost taxpayers millions

The Tennessean has a Sunday review of multtmillion-dollar computer problems that have plagued Tennessee state government. Here’s the list of impacted agencies:

TennCare: The agency scrapped a $37.5 million computer system earlier this year after multiple failures kept people with disabilities as well as pregnant women from enrolling. The failures earned a sharp rebuke from federal Medicaid officials and a federal lawsuit.

Department of Children’s Services: Under orders from a federal judge, the department has poured millions of dollars into fixing hundreds of glitches in a computer system launched in 2011 to track child welfare and abuse cases. The costs have soared to $38 million since then. The department told a federal judge earlier this year that the majority of problems have been fixed.

Department of Human Services: The Department of Human Services in 2013 scrapped a 7-year-old, $20 million computer software system that was intended to modernize how the agency processes food stamps and Medicaid caseloads.

Department of Revenue: Failures of a new computer system within the Department of Revenue intended to track car titles cost taxpayers $40 million after the department spent 10 years developing it before conceding in 2013 it showed no signs of ever working.

Department of Labor and Workforce Development: The department’s computer system problems contributed to an estimated $98 million in unemployment claim overpayments during the past six years — including checks issued to prisoners, dead people and state employees — and those overpayments could balloon to $171 million, according to the Tennessee comptroller. The department’s problems may not be fixed until 2016, when four-decade-old mainframes are scheduled to be replaced.

The full story starts thusly:
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Dept. of Safety staff instructed not to tell public about computer glitches

Department of Safety and Homeland Security officials told employees not to tell the public about glitches causing problems in the launch of a new driver license computer system last month, according to WTVF TV.

The new computer system was two years in the making and was finished on budget at $30 million. (Note: News release HERE.) But when it went online in mid-February, some employees did not seem ready.

On March 3, we found people waiting for hours at the drivers license reinstatement center on Murfreesboro Road. Security personnel tried to calm nerves as people were told to come back the next day.

“I’ve been here Monday and Tuesday at 8:45 and I didn’t get,” one customer said.

… A day after the Shelbyville complaint all district managers were told, “Do not tell customers that we have a new system that is not working.” The email continued, “We don’t want the public to think we spent 30 million dollars on a system that doesn’t work when that is not the problem.”

Hogan responded after we showed him the email, “The person that wrote that email was just trying to stress, ‘let’s be patient.’ We know there’s a transition period. This is not something we expect to last a long time.”

Hogan emphasized the system does in fact work, but some employees were not comfortable using it.
… “Were there some minor glitches? Absolutely, but overall, I think we are past that and everyone should be pleased with the product,” Hogan said.

State’s $37.5M TennCare computer contract terminated

TennCare officials and contractor Northrop Grumman Corp. have agreed to part ways over a troubled $37.5 million computer system that was supposed to be making Medicaid eligibility determinations a year ago this month, reports the Chattanooga TFP.

In a statement, the TennCare Bureau says that after receiving detailed findings on problems from a report by its independent consulting firm, KPMG LLC, “the state and current vendor have mutually decided it to be in their respective best interests to terminate the current contract early.

“The state will be moving forward with the process to select a new vendor,” the statement adds.

TennCare spokeswoman Kelly Gunderson said in response to questions that “some” of Northrop Grumman’s work “is usable. Once we have a new vendor they will also be able to perform an assessment to determine the extent to which the current technology could be integrated with the new technology.”

No time table was provided.

The state has already paid Northrop Grumman $4.6 million on development of its Tennessee Eligibility Determination System (TEDS). Because 90 percent of the project was funded by the federal goverment, the state is out about $460,000.

According to a recent Tennessee Comptroller’s performance audit of TennCare operations, Northrop project managers provided two explanations for delays. One was the bureau requested the eligiblity system be fully tested before becoming available for public use.

“Therefore, complex testing on Release 1 must be conducted before work on Release 2 can begin,” the audit says.

The company also blamed federal regulation changes for some delays in testing. When the regulations change, project staff “must make adjustments to the system and test all of the changes,” auditors noted.

Note: The official TennCare announcement, via news release, is HERE.

State may scrap $38M TennCare computer system

Tennessee may just scrap a doomed computer system meant to determine who is eligible for the state’s Medicaid program and find a new contractor, reports WPLN.

That’s one of three options outlined by TennCare, who hired Northrop Grumman to build the system. It was supposed to be done a year and a half ago and remains nowhere near complete.

In a hearing with Governor Bill Haslam, TennCare chief medical officer Wendy Long said it has become clear the $38 million price tag was never going to be enough. Other states have spent $98 – $184 million on similar systems.

“It’s evident that our winning bid came in so far outside of the ballpark that the approach envisioned by our vendor likely had little potential for success,” Long said.

By the end of the year, TennCare hopes to chart a path forward, which could include salvaging some of the work that’s already been done. The agency already hired consulting firm KPMG for $1 million to help figure out what to do.

“Nobody is really in a great steady state at this point,” TennCare director Darin Gordon told WPLN. “What we have to look at is who do we think brings the expertise that we need, can they deal with the complexity of this size of implementation and then increase our odds for success. So I can’t rule out anything.”

In their defense, TennCare officials point out that the state has only paid Northrop Grumman $4.6 million. And because of the federal match on system upgrades, only 10 percent of that has been state tax dollars.

Other states have hit similar snags, though Tennessee has had more trouble than almost anyone. The problem spot is a new Medicaid calculation known as “modified adjusted gross income.” According to TennCare officials, when an applicant’s own estimate doesn’t match up with their most recent tax return, the application gets kicked back.

DIDD computer finally fixed (almost, maybe)

If everything goes according to schedule, a new computer system will go online next year for tracking the services Tennessee provides to people with disabilities, according to WPLN. But it’s twenty years overdue.

On its website, the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities has a video (HERE) in which Deputy Commissioner Lance Iverson touts what’s being called Project Titan. His message to service providers, family members and department staff is that the new computer system will be a huge change for the better. And that it really will exist.

“Many of you have heard this story before and you might be watching this video while rolling your eyes and shaking your head. I understand why you’re skeptical. We’ve said this six times before and nothing’s changed.”

The current software dates back to 1994. It was intended to be a stopgap, thrown together so state workers could perform one month’s worth of billing before something more permanent was put in place. Instead, the temporary solution was patched–new bits of code have been added here, additional features cobbled in there.

Efforts to replace the system entirely repeatedly sputtered out. One project was killed because the department’s IT department wasn’t up to the task. A contract to have an outside company fix the problem was cancelled after missed deadlines. A recent audit from the state comptroller’s office found that more than 4 million dollars was spent on the failed attempts.

The department started all over again last year. It expects to have the new system finally up and running in full by late summer.

Ramsey Handing Out Checks to Libraries

On Friday, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey presented the Sullivan County Public Library’s staff with a $21,622 check they will use to buy 12 new laptop computers – including one designed to help people who are visually impaired – along with the software, furniture and other equipment needed to operate them, according to the Bristol Herald-Courier.
“The digital divide is one of the more glaring obstacles to success for our underprivileged and rural residents,” said Ramsey, who made a similar presentation to staff at the Johnson County Public Library System in Mountain City on Friday. “These grants will help the hardworking people of Sullivan and Johnson counties bridge that gap, stay informed and reach their potential in the job market.”
Library System Director Theresa McMahon said more than 12,000 people used the computer labs set up at her system’s five branches in Blountville, Bloomingdale, Bluff City, Colonial Heights and Sullivan Gardens between July 2010 and April 2011.
Many of them come in to learn about filing for unemployment, look for a job or take a computerized course that teaches them to put together a resume or improve their skills. McMahon said she hopes the new laptops will help her expand these services so they can help more people.
Money for the computers came from a partnership formed by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Office and the Tennessee Secretary of State’s office that set aside $1.45 million to help libraries in 61 of the state’s rural counties upgrade their computer systems.