Illinois overhaul of financial systems $150M over budget

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) An effort by the state of Illinois to consolidate hundreds of separate financial reporting systems has cost $150 million more than estimated.

Auditor General Frank Mautino's audit of the Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology found that the cost of the Enterprise Resource Planning project exceeded the initial five-year, $250 million estimate by 60 percent largely because of an aggressive implementation schedule. It began by tackling 260 separate financial reporting systems.

"It's running behind and you've had cost overruns because of the implementation, they pushed hard in the beginning, which caused conversion problems and implementation problems because it's trying to do so much," Mautino said.

The audit found that the current estimated $400 million rollout should cover the rest of the implementation, scheduled for completion early next year. But Mautino noted some of the bigger challenges remain mega-agencies such as the Department of Human Services and the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, which handle public assistance and Medicaid health care coverage, have yet to come online.

The audit, covering a two-year period that ended in June 2018, found 30 deficiencies. They included the failure to consolidate computer services among all 38 agencies required by a 2016 executive order by former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, late payment of vendors resulting in $20 million in late-payment interest, shoddy control of inventory and assets, and failure to follow written policies about which personnel have the authority to make such changes as computer coding.

It also criticized the agency for failing to cooperate with Democratic Comptroller Susana Mendoza, who took office in December 2016 after a special election in which she defeated Rauner's hand-picked GOP comptroller. Mendoza questioned her predecessor's quick processing of $71 million in vouchers during a period when there was no state spending plan because of a dispute between Rauner and the Democratic-led General Assembly.

The audit failed to answer questions posed by Mendoza about $27 million in invoices which Mendoza refused to pay without more information, resulting in $39 million more in late-payment interest. Mendoza spokesman Abdon Pallasch said those bills have begun to be paid.

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DoIT Audit: https://bit.ly/2SaJcXE

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