Michigan County requests audit of delayed $ 57 million software project
(TNS) – A Wayne County commissioner requests an audit of a $ 57 million software project he described as a “major blunder” after upgrades were stalled and costs nearly hit. double.
Commissioner Glenn Anderson, whose 12th Borough represents the towns of Inkster, Garden City and Westland, said he was asking the county auditor to look into the county’s corporate resource planning project, which was designed to goal three years ago to upgrade the current accounting software system to account for and move funds accurately for all county transactions.
“Someone dropped the ball on this and I want to know why,” Anderson told the Detroit News Wednesday. “People should take up arms. They let it implode, it’s disturbing and there must be consequences.
Anderson, commissioner since 2016 and former state lawmaker, said millions of dollars have been spent so far and the cost of the desired system, once priced at around $ 31 million, has nearly doubled. An audit, he added, would require the approval of the chairman of the county audit committee.
He described the software problem as an “error” that involved high turnover of some of the county’s CIOs and a general lack of oversight by the county’s chief financial officer, Hughey Newsome, and his administration.
“We (the commissioners) were kept in the dark for months about the problems they (the information technology) were having in setting up the program,” says Anderson.
Newsome told The News on Wednesday that the case was being reviewed to see to what extent the work performed was “salvageable.” Nonetheless, Newsome stressed, he believes that “anything can be solved” and that he is focusing on getting the program back on track rather than determining fault.
The county, he confirmed, is still heavily using the outdated accounting software that necessitated the project.
“My efforts are to get the project going and provide the county with an up-to-date software accounting system,” Newsome said. “My main goal is to get the train back on track rather than figuring out who did what and when. “
Newsome said part of the new system is being used by the county treasury department. He estimates that the final cost of the total system will be $ 57 million and “our hope is to complete this by the end of 2023”.
“We do not plan to run out of money to complete the project,” he insisted.
A September 9 report from Newsome’s office to county commissioners blamed the software problem on several root causes and factors, including. Among them, the report noted, a lack of staff in key departments, inexperienced consultants and companies in government accounting, distorted costs and a lack of accountability or oversight.
Newsome said he has been leading the project since July, providing monthly updates to the county’s executive staff and CEO. He addressed some of the issues but declined to discuss others, noting that they were still under consideration.
He said he didn’t have staff numbers on hand, but “it’s a countywide problem.”
“We are a government entity that has traditionally lagged behind the market in terms of total compensation,” Newsome said. “The current challenges with too few workers compound this problem. “
Newsome said New Jersey-based CherryRoad Technologies was hired to provide some of the work but missed several deadlines. On July 26, by mutual agreement, he stopped working with the county after being paid nearly $ 8.5 million, he said.
“We agreed to a separation in this manner to avoid a long litigation that would have blocked funding and taken too long,” Newsome explained.
“Their experience in government was not as evident during the interview / appraisal process,” Newsome said in an email Wednesday. “They were chosen as a ‘good’ candidate who was competitively priced. “
A CherryRoad representative could not be reached immediately on Wednesday.
Anderson said there has been a lot of explanation given for the issues with the tech upgrades, but none are acceptable. He said he was afraid of the costs that would fall on taxpayers and that the county still would not have the necessary program to run its business, paychecks and contracts.
“And we are still paying over a million dollars a year to keep our old system limping,” he added. “And that was extended for four years or $ 4 million. Just to maintain a program that could fail at any time.
Wayne County Commissioner Jonathan Kinloch, D-Detroit, said “the more we talk about it, the more questions arise.”
“The most important thing is to get him back on track,” Kinloch said. “I’ve heard from the CFO (Newsome) and I want to give him the benefit of the doubt that he’s going to understand the reasons and structure it so that it doesn’t happen again. We were promised regular reports on its progress.
Kinloch said voters are already wary of a system and elected officials to run it.
“The last thing we need is another public funding nightmare,” Kinloch said.
© 2021 The Detroit News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.