The new unimproved IT

Wisconsin State Roundup

Published July 1, 2007  | July 2007 issue

Information technology is supposed to make the world more efficient. Somebody ought to tell that to the state of Wisconsin. A legislative audit released this past spring found that a host of IT improvement projects were behind schedule and significantly over budget, some so much so that projects were getting scrapped altogether despite millions in expenditures.

Earlier this year, a project to overhaul the unemployment insurance tracking system was suspended by the Department of Workforce Development after a key early component—costing $10 million—failed to work; the agency is also $19 million over budget on a second project. The Department of Revenue recently halted a new sales-tax tracking system despite spending $28 million. Last year, the University of Wisconsin abandoned a new payroll system after spending $26 million. There have also been delays and cost overruns in recent years to upgrades in the state's e-mail and voter registrations systems.

Even for completed projects, the results can be less than spectacular. An IT project to update vehicle registration and titling systems cost twice its original estimate of $9 million. Two years after the project was completed, the wait time at DMV centers and the mailing time to receive a vehicle title have reportedly increased.

Ronald A. Wirtz