Source: Topeka Capital-Journal, December 13, 2016
At a time when our state faces a $350 million projected budget shortfall and a $580 million reduction in anticipated revenue next year, Kansans need to be especially critical of how the Brownback administration is spending money. This is why recent news of an expensive, botched attempt to modernize the state’s data technology is so frustrating — it was a $17 million failure. Phil Whittmer is the chief IT officer in Kansas, and he explained that the Executive Branch Technology Modernization project (the internal attempt to replace an IBM mainframe that handles data for four state agencies) was too costly to sustain. … In place of EBTM, the state negotiated a five-year, $14 million deal with a Chicago-based technology company called Ensono. According to the executive director of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, Rebecca Proctor, IT workers are worried about losing their jobs when the project moves out of state. Department of Administration spokesman John Milburn said a meeting about the outsourced project was held with IT workers two weeks ago, but he couldn’t say exactly what this would mean for their jobs: “It’s unclear at this time just exactly how many will be affected.” The Legislature commissioned an efficiency study from Alvarez and Marsal (released in January) that recommended “a comprehensive data center outsourcing initiative” that would include “all existing state-owned data centers.” The study’s authors say this could “generate between 15 and 25 percent in total savings or $960,000 to $1.6 million in annual savings.” While the concerns about outsourcing raised by state IT workers (lost jobs, taxpayer funds leaving Kansas, etc.) are valid and disconcerting, there are economic realities that can’t be avoided. … At this point, one thing seems certain: the EBTM mess is a worst-of-both-worlds scenario for Kansans. Not only will an important technology project be outsourced, but the state is $17 million poorer for no reason.
Brownback administration tight-lipped on $17m tech expense
Source: Celia Llopis-Jensen, Topeka Capital-Journal, December 11, 2016
The administration of Gov. Sam Brownback has refused to explain details of a $17 million expenditure on IT efforts that were later abandoned in favor of outsourcing. The Capital-Journal is seeking information about why the expenditure was approved, whether the state will be able to recoup it, and whether the state remains on the hook for more of the total project costs, which a recent report listed as $33 million. The Capital-Journal asked Department of Administration spokesperson John Milburn:
- Whether the $17 million was spent on leasing fees.
- Whether the equipment has been sitting in storage unused.
- Why the administration decided in 2013 to pursue the project, then scrapped it as too expensive.
- Whether the administration is concerned about the $17 million spent so far and the prospects for recouping it.
- Whether Kansas is obligated to pay any more of the $33 million in project costs, such as for any ongoing fees.
“We have several alternatives in front of us that will allow us to recover some costs,” Milburn replied. “It is a complex technical issue that the team has been working through and some of those answers will become clear in the next three to six months.” The Governor’s Office didn’t answer similar questions. It deferred to Milburn. At issue is a now-sidelined effort to create a state-run platform that would replace an IBM mainframe in the Landon data center that serves four major state agencies. The initiative was called Executive Branch Technology Modernization (EBTM), or Kansas GovCloud.
Kansas poured $17m into tech solution before outsourcing instead
Source: Celia Llopis-Jensen, Topeka Capital-Journal, December 8, 2016
The administration of Gov. Sam Brownback spent $17 million on resolving technology needs in-house before abandoning the effort in favor of outsourcing to an out-of-state company. The state’s head of IT, who put the in-house Executive Branch Technology Modernization project on hold, says it was too expensive. … Kansas reached the five-year, $14 million deal with Ensono in September. State workers are on edge about potentially losing their jobs since being called to a meeting last week about the matter. Department of Administration spokesman John Milburn didn’t answer questions Thursday regarding why EBTM was initially approved, where the equipment for the project is being stored, and whether any of the $17 million can be recouped. Quarterly project reports produced by the Office of Information Technology Services indicate the EBTM plan — also dubbed Kansas GovCloud — was approved in September 2013, under a previous chief IT officer. The reports showed the project as active up to the first quarter of 2016, when it was listed as “on hold.” Estimated total expenses for the project and three years of operational costs were $32.75 million. The report said $16.95 million had been spent so far, and the project remained frozen “pending outcome of financial and scope reviews.” … For the Ensono contract, Wittmer told lawmakers Thursday his office considered bids from in-state companies. In total, the state received eight bids, but the in-state options fell short of the physical requirements and security needs. Wittmer said the primary location for Kansas’ data, once housed with Ensono, will be in the suburbs of Chicago, and the backup will be in Arkansas. The state’s current mainframe situation needed to be addressed, he said. Last Christmas, for example, a power outage brought down the state’s Landon data center, which includes the mainframe, for about a day. … Last January, an external state efficiency audit commissioned by the Legislature concluded that Kansas was spending $6.4 million annually on mainframe operation, including pay for the 40 full-time-equivalent IT employees who support it. The audit recommended outsourcing. …
Kansas inks deal to outsource IT to Chicago-area company
Source: Celia Llopis-Jensen, Topeka Capital-Journal, December 7, 2016
The state will retire a mainframe used by four major state agencies and contract with a private company in its stead, drawing concern from state employees about potential impending layoffs. The state has inked a five-year contract with Illinois-based Ensono for more than $14 million to replace an IBM mainframe, as recommended last January in a state efficiency review commissioned by the Legislature. The January efficiency study laid out several opportunities for IT-related savings across state agencies. … Rebecca Proctor, executive director of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, said she has heard concerns from IT workers who say they were called to a meeting last week to discuss the decision regarding the mainframe. IT workers are concerned they will lose their jobs, and that outsourcing these services sends taxpayer dollars out of state. One IT worker emailed Proctor following the meeting to say it appeared dozens of employees would be laid off. Milburn confirmed a meeting had taken place but said he does not have specifics about potential job cuts. … Asked about the concern that the contract with Ensono would send public money out of state, Milburn said state contracts are sometimes with in-state and sometimes with out-of-state companies. Proctor said the KOSE union hasn’t been informed of any layoff plan yet. The state has to notify the union at least 45 days in advance, she said. … The audit says the state operates a single IBM mainframe at an annual cost of $6.38 million, including $2.4 million in labor costs. About 40 full-time-equivalent IT employees support the mainframe, which serves the Department for Children and Families, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Revenue and the Department of Labor. “If bundled with a comprehensive data center outsourcing initiative,” the report says, “the state could generate between 15 and 25 percent in total savings or $960,000 to $1.6 million in annual savings.” The audit recommends considering contracts with private companies not just for the mainframe, but for “all existing state-owned data centers,” which includes servers and storage. The report says there are 60 full-time-equivalent public jobs supporting “the server, storage and data center environment,” representing $4.3 million in annual labor costs. …