07/09/2014 - ERP Board Announces Go-Live of Phase C Financials for wvOASIS Project

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Board today announced the third phase of the State’s ERP project went live on July 8th   as scheduled.  With the implementation of Phase C, the new wvOASIS Financial, Procurement and Treasury applications will provide enhanced vendor opportunities through online registration and bidding.  It will enable greater efficiency and accountability in state government through its multi-dimensional ability to implement and integrate security and controls over user access, procurement, spending, policy enforcement, and payables. The benefits of wvOASIS are multifold.

·         It provides for significantly enhanced statewide reporting across state government.

·         Core business processes are standardized in ways that improve access to information.

·         Aging redundant administrative systems have been consolidated into one integrated system.

The ERP Board is comprised of Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, State Auditor Glen B Gainer III, and State Treasurer John D. Perdue. “By replacing nearly 100 different administrative systems with wvOASIS, we are ensuring that West Virginia remains a model of fiscal responsibility, financial stability, and accountability to our citizens.” Gov. Tomblin said. State Auditor Glen Gainer noted that while the wvOASIS system is set to save the state $200-$300 million over 7 years, the new Vendor Self-Service module is already making the State a better business partner. 
 State Treasurer John D. Perdue added that wvOASIS will help state workers become more efficient and allow for better access to consolidated data.  

 

ERP is business management software that allows an organization to use a system of integrated applications to manage business functions. wvOASIS, which stands for West Virginia: Our Advanced Solution with Integrated Systems, will replace or introduce new business functionality including budget development, human resources, payroll, procurement, financial, transportation, and treasury management, as well as replacing a number of systems maintained by agencies to track items such as inventory, fixed assets, time and leave management, and real estate. 

 

Specifically, Phase C of the wvOASIS project greatly increases user interaction with added flexibility and is more robust in the Grant, Project Management and Accounting business areas.  Enhanced transparency from the system will allow the State to respond to information requests faster and implement tighter internal controls by providing audit trails of all system actions. Vendor opportunities are enhanced by a new Vendor Self Service (VSS) feature that maintains vendor information and allows online access to State solicitations which indicate the types of goods and services the State is requesting from the vendor community. VSS also provides an opportunity for Vendors to electronically submit invoices thus reducing the time it will take the State to receive and pay invoices.

07/09/2014 - State runs first set of checks in new wvOASIS system

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Board will implement Phase C of the new wvOASIS system, which targets the Financial, Procurement, and Treasury applications on July 8th. As part of this implementation, today, State Auditor Glen Gainer and State Treasurer John Perdue were able to process and print the first batch of checks received from the wvOASIS system.  In total, 4,422 checks amounting to $1,739,234.61 were part of this inaugural run.

ERP is business management software that allows an organization to use a system of integrated applications to manage business functions. wvOASIS, which stands for West Virginia: Our Advanced Solution with Integrated Systems, will replace or introduce new business functionality including budget development, human resources, payroll, procurement, financial, transportation, and treasury management, as well as replacing a number of systems maintained by agencies to track items such as inventory, fixed assets, time and leave management, and real estate.

01/23/2014 - West Virginia Department of Transportation Implements Phase B of the wvOASIS Enterprise Resource Planning Project

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The wvOASIS Enterprise Resource Planning Board (ERP) headed by West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, State Auditor Glen B. Gainer III, and State Treasurer John Perdue joined Paul Mattox, Cabinet Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Transportation, in announcing the implementation of Phase B of the wvOASIS project

Phase B, headed by the West Virginia Department of Transportation, marks the second of a five phase implementation schedule.  The first two phases have been delivered to the State on schedule. Phase B includes the deployment of a Right of Way Management System, Utility and Railroad Relocation Management System, a Safety Management application and part of the Transportation Asset Inventory (TAI) functionality for the Department of Transportation.

Secretary Mattox relayed to the Enterprise Resource Planning Board that Phase B was the beginning of the Department of Transportation’s transition away from their current thirty year-old financial system and will allow the Department of Transportation to better manage the approximately eight and one-half billion dollar investment in highway infrastructure in West Virginia, which represents the single most expensive asset the State’s taxpayers have acquired. 

Auditor Gainer commented the Department of Transportation had taken steps to acquire inventory management software prior to it being required by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).  It is Auditor’s Gainer’s expectation that future highway funding is contingent upon West Virginia’s ability to convince Congress the State was a good steward of their federal dollars.   

Treasurer Perdue commented that he believed the wvOASIS project will provide information about the Department of Transportation’s infrastructure, and will allow all concerned parties including the taxpayers to help prioritize the Department of Transportation’s funding needs which will improve the overall economy of the state.  

 Contacts:                                                                            

Brent H. Walker                                                                      wvOASIS Enterprise Resource Planning Board

W.V. Department of Transportation                                        Enterprise Readiness Team

Office of Communications                                                      EnterpriseReadiness@wvOASIS.gov

Brent.H.Walker@wv.gov

08/05/2013 - Phase A: Budget Development is now LIVE!

We are happy to report that Phase A: Budget Development of the wvOASIS Project is now live and ready for West Virginia state employees to use! This new budgeting program for all branches of state government will allow for the planning of fiscal year 2015 budgets.

For the Budget Development System Training Manual and access to wvOASIS Chart of Account Dimensions, please visit http://www.budget.wv.gov/stateagencyforms/AR

The detailed guidelines for the preparation and submission of the FY 2015 Appropriation Request may be accessed through http://www.budget.wv.gov/stateagencyforms/AR

The wvOASIS Project team and all of the state agencies are to be commended on their hard work and efforts to ensure a smooth implementation.

Should you have questions, please Contact Us.

 

03/26/2013 - W.Va.'s spending transparency grade falls

Charleston Daily Mail.com

W.Va.'s spending transparency grade falls

by Eric Eyre
The Charleston Gazette

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia's grade for online transparency of state government spending has slipped from an A- to a C, according to the latest rankings released by a national watchdog group.

West Virginia's national ranking dropped from sixth last year to 21st this year. The state's overall score dropped from 91 points to 74.

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group's report concluded that other states are taking swifter steps to improve online fiscal transparency.

"West Virginia's falling score does not mean spending has become less transparent," said Phineas Baxandall, senior analyst for tax and budget policy for PIRG's education fund. "It means other states are improving faster."

Last year, West Virginia officials lauded PIRG's annual report that gave the state an A-, a significant improvement from an F grade in 2011.

In the fall of 2011, the state started a "TransparencyWV" website, www.transparencywv.org, to track spending. Texas' state government had a similarly designed website.

Tuesday's "Following the Money" report said West Virginia's transparency website has "checkbook-level information on contracts, grants and other expenses." But the site lacks details on economic development tax credits and subsidies, according to the report.

" ... West Virginia still has plenty of room for improvement," Baxandall said.

West Virginia officials said they plan to improve the state's transparency website once the state completes its $98 million "Enterprise Resource Planning" project, which will link state agencies' financial data.

"It will greatly enhance and expand the possible applications for researching state funds," said Justin Southern, a spokesman for Auditor Glen Gainer. "TransparencyWV will be completely remade to take advantage of the new system."

Southern said the website now is updated daily and "provides an open book into the state's finances."

The PIRG report said "top-flight" transparency websites can save money for taxpayers, while also restoring public confidence in government and preventing misspending and "pay-to-play" contracts.

"The state of West Virginia still has better than average transparency and can get back on top by further improving the breadth and ease of access of online government spending information," Baxandall said. "Given the state's difficult budget choices, West Virginians need to be able to follow the money."

The states with the highest-graded websites were Texas, Massachusetts, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Oklahoma.

12/19/2012 - Millions more will go toward computer contract

Charleston Daily Mail.com

Millions more will go toward computer contract

by Ry Rivard, Daily Mail Capitol Reporter
Charleston Daily Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- One of the most expensive West Virginia government contracts just got more expensive.

Auditor Glen Gainer, Treasurer John Perdue and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's chief of staff voted last week to spend another $12.4 million on a computer contract already expected to cost $98 million.

The multi-year project is supposed to eliminate scores of far-flung software programs by creating one computer system to manage the state's accounts, personnel and assets. The project is known as the Enterprise Resource Planning system, or ERP.

The contract, one of the largest in state government, was awarded late last year to CGI, a Montreal-based technology company that does similar projects in other states.

CGI representatives and state officials, led by Gainer, met four days last week to renegotiate key parts of the initial contract.

Following those negotiations, Gainer, Perdue and Tomblin chief of staff Rob Alsop voted Friday to increase CGI's contract by more than 12 percent.

The state purchasing division's handbook "strongly" discourages changes to projects that cost more than 10 percent of the initial agreement.

But officials said they expected the unexpected when they first signed the ERP contract with CGI.

Gainer said the state created a $25.5 million contingency fund because officials knew they would want to update the contract and might have to deal with unforeseen issues.

Gainer said even with the $12.4 million in new costs after CGI's first year, he still expected to have money in the contingency fund when all is said and done.

Gainer said the money was for a host of project costs, not just changes to CGI's contract.

"That's not $25 million that could go to CGI," he said.

Gainer said there will be a second round of negotiations early next year that will also add costs to the contract, although they will be "substantially smaller" than the $12.4 million changes.

The state is also paying $12 million to $14 million to Connecticut-based Information Services Group to provide expert advice on setting up such a system. Mitt Salvaggio, the consultant's managing partner, sat in during negotiations with CGI last week, Gainer said.

The new computer system has been a long time coming. Officials talked for years about upgrading the state's many aging computer systems and combining them into one, modern system.

The project is already costing more than was initially expected. In 2008, the state's top technology official thought it would cost maybe $60 million.

More than 30 people advised the state on how to proceed. The state asked companies to meet 12,310 specific requirements. None of the companies met all of those requirements.

Partially because of that, the renegotiated contract was expected, Gainer said.

State ERP project manager Todd Childers said the state could not do a project of the ERP's size without certain unknowns that would have to be dealt with after a contract was signed.

"There would have been change orders regardless of who the vendor was," Childers said.

(Companies the state contracts with are known as vendors. Renegotiated contracts are known as change orders.)

Last year, one of the losing bidders, Accenture, questioned CGI's ability to do the project for the price CGI bid in the first of two rounds of bidding. That price eventually went up in the second round, but CGI still came in with the lowest bid and the fewest hours of labor.

Last year, CGI said it would need 514,000 hours to complete the project at an average rate of $118 an hour. By contrast, Accenture needed 20,000 more hours — 533,000 hours — at $164 per hour. At the high end, a third bidder committed to 622,000 hours at $144 per hour.

Alsop said that even with the extra $12.4 million headed CGI's way, the contract still would end up costing less than either of the other bids.

Officials also said one of the changes made last week could bring in nearly $8 million a year by allowing the state to work closely with the federal government to collect bad debt.

"We really feel that is a low number," Perdue said, referring to the amount of debt the state would be able to collect because of the ERP. "We're pretty confident we will end up with more."

The state and CGI spent part of the past year deciding if the original contract needed to be changed. There are three categories of changes: work the state originally demanded but CGI did not agree to do; work the state originally demanded but realizes now it does not need done; and work the state never realized it wanted.

Officials said the state was able to save some money by telling CGI not do some work the state originally agreed to pay for.

08/20/2012 - Computer system presents challenge

Charleston Daily Mail.com

Computer system presents challenge

by Ry Rivard, Daily Mail Capitol Reporter
Charleston Daily Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - West Virginia is in the first months of an eight-year, $98 million effort to change the nuts and bolts of state bureaucracy.

While it will mostly escape public notice beyond the halls of government, the state is working to eliminate scores of far-flung software programs. Instead, West Virginia government is working on one computer system to manage state's accounts, personnel and assets. The goal is to keep better track of taxpayers' money and provide unprecedented levels of government oversight.

The contract, one of the largest in state government, was awarded late last year to CGI, a Montreal-based technology company that's doing similar projects in other states.

Just signing the contract was a multi-year undertaking and it's not nearly finished. The system will come online in four main stages starting in fall 2013.

As that happens, the state is going to have to train an untold number of state employees how to use it.

State officials hired consultants to make sure the computer system was a good idea. The Legislature hired a consultant of its own to do a review before agreeing to foot the bill.

The bidding process started in February and didn't end until December after two rounds of analysis. More than 30 people advised the state on how to proceed. The state asked companies to meet 12,310 specific requirements.

Five companies submitted more than 10,000 pages of technical proposals for review. Company representatives and purchasing division staffers traded hundreds of pages of emails, including some emails from other bidders that sharply questioned the ability of CGI to do what it says it will.

The computer system is known as the Enterprise Resource Planning system. It has two nicknames: ERP and "WV OASIS," which stands for "Our Advanced Solution with Integrated Systems."

The ERP even has its own governing structure that was established by law. The governor, auditor and state treasurer are on a three-member board that oversees the project. A sixteen-member steering committee reports to them.

All that because the state hopes it can save money by combining numerous far-flung computer programs into one.

The state currently has one computer system that agencies use for some billing, but several years ago the state began to think that system wasn't good enough. The current program, called Financial Information Management System, or FIMS, is nearly a quarter century old. Before that, the state used IBM Selectric typewriters to help keep its books.

An analysis by Unisys, a technology consulting firm, said in order to do best practices, the state needed "transform their financial systems, processes and organization."

One sign the software may be sorely needed was an audit last year that found the state Department of Environmental Protection had an accounting system that wasn't able to accurately track more than $19 million flowing through the agency.

So, there were three choices: keep doing business as usual, upgrade FIMS or get a whole new system. Upgrading would require extensive time and money and be "very high risk," Unisys told the state.

 

Shopping around

Already, the ERP is going to cost more than first thought.

In 2008, the state's top technology official thought it would cost on the "high end of the $40 to $60 (million) estimated range," according to a report Boston-based consultants Wolf & Company gave to the Legislature.

When the first round of bids were opened last summer, two companies were disqualified and three remaining bids ranged from $80 million to $173 million.

Global computer giant IBM and Morris Plains, N.J.-based Cherry Roads both submitted proposals that failed to meet the state's rigorous technical demands.

Then the state put the three remaining companies through another round of bidding to clarify some questions and to get a best and final offer.

Finally, the state settled on CGI's $98 million bid during the second round of bidding. About $13 million of that is just licensing fees for software.

But there questions about the initial vast disparities during the first round of bidding.

In a July 2011 letter before the second round of bidding, one of the other bidders, Accenture, worried that CGI could not possibly do its work for the rate it bid.

At first, CGI said it could do the job in 359,00 hours, while Deloitte said it would need 820,000 hours and Accenture said it needed 740,000 hours, according to an analysis by Accenture of the bids. "Staffing the WV ERP project with people compensated at entry level labor rates, combined with the seriously insufficient staffing noted above, leads to errors, delays and on the job learning at the expense of the state," Accenture said before the final round of bidding.

In the second round, CGI said it would need 514,000 hours to complete the project at an average rate of $118 an hour.

By contrast, Accenture needed 20,000 more hours -- 533,000 hours -- at $164 per hour. At the high end, Deloitte committed to 622,000 hours at $144 per hour.

After CGI won the contract in mid-December, Accenture again complained, this time about the way the bid was judged by the state.

"In particular, we are confused and troubled by the inconsistent and arbitrary nature of the scoring," a company executive wrote to the state purchasing division. "As a result, we strongly request that the State redo its scoring.

But that letter wasn't considered a formal protest by the purchasing division.

State acting Secretary of Administration Ross Taylor said the state came away satisfied with CGI's bid and ability to do the project. He said the low rate was a sign of CGI's commitment.

"To me all that really indicates is that CGI really wanted the job," he said. "We weren't necessarily going to question why they were offering such a low rate.

"As a result, it's up to us to manage the project to make certain that, No. 1, they do give us the staffing that they won and then No. 2, that they don't come back with a lot of change orders and things, trying to increase their cost, trying to increase their monies they receive from us."

Likewise, the state's ERP project manager, Todd Childers, said the state thoroughly investigated all of the different companies' accusations and the state was comfortable with its review before the contract was awarded.

Childers said the state is very comfortable with CGI's staff.

"We did not feel that had any merit in terms of less senior staff," he said. "Quite the contrary, we think we got a more senior, more experienced bid by CGI than the others."

Asked about outsourcing or hiring less experience to hold down rates, Childers said, "I don't see any evidence of any negative things they are doing to keep their rates down."

The state's bid allowed 3 of 18 types of technology work to be done outside the United States, but Childers said the vast majority of people from CGI are working in Charleston at the state-owned Lottery headquarters building. He said the board was "very sensitive" to having work done outside the U.S.

Like many consultants, some CGI staffers travel in on Monday and leave on Thursday, Childers said, although he added that some people have moved to Charleston.

 

Product guarantees

The state has also taken measures to protect itself should something go wrong.

The contract allows the state to withhold up to 15 percent of the money it owes CGI at different stages of the contract until state officials are satisfied the company has met different benchmarks.

That method, known as a "retainage," differs from another method states use to guarantee they will get good work. At times, states ask companies to put up bonds.

Earlier this month, legislative auditors took a look at a state Medicaid computer contract. The auditors surveyed other states who have similar Medicaid computer contracts and found about half the other states required some kind of bond from technology companies who did Medicaid work.

Childers said consultants told the state that 5 to 10 percent retainage was normal in the industry. As a result, he thinks the 15 percent withholding is good insurance.

"Even our consultants told us that was extremely high retainage in the industry," Childers said during a joint interview along with Taylor.

 

Software and staffing

CGI, unlike other companies, makes most of its own software. That might have pluses and minuses for the state.

Some companies take complex off-the-shelf software from companies like Oracle and modify it and install it for states. CGI uses some of that software, but also creates much of its product from scratch.

That has several long-term implications.

First, Taylor said it makes CGI more accountable for its work because CGI can't blame other people's software for causing problems.

"CGI, they are going to be pointing at themselves, basically," Taylor said. "Whereas Oracle could blame Accenture, Accenture could blame Oracle and not actually take the full responsibility. CGI, it's their software; they implement their software."

Childers also said it's an advantage to be able to point the finger at CGI and CGI alone.

"We like the concept - our consultants called it the 'one-throat to choke,'" Childers said. "Our vendor doesn't like that, they prefer the 'one back to pat.'"

But using CGI's proprietary software does limit the number of outside people who can look under the hood and know what they see. In other words, the state is partially locked in to dealing with CGI for years to come.

"There is a flipside to that, yes," Childers said. "You're going to be dealing primarily with CGI."

But officials hope that has its own upside: state employees who are trained on CGI's software are less likely to get poached by the private sector, where CGI software is less common, though CGI has a good foothold in the public sector.

The state has had to deal with private companies coming in and taking away people the state has trained. When that happens, the state has essentially helped train somebody so they can leave government with their state-funded technical knowledge. Using less widely-used software could hamper that.

"Our apprenticeship is more limited than what it would be if we went with one of the others," Taylor said.

Training state workers to use the new software will also be its own ordeal.

In the end, Taylor said the ERP would make things smoother because employees who transfer from one agency to another will be using the same software. Now, a person going from DEP to the Department of Natural Resources may have to learn a totally new computer system to do the exact same job they had before. That will end once everybody is using the same system.

Right now, the state is using more than 100 different accounting and management programs. The ERP will replace most of them, although some agencies will keep highly specialized programs, like the transportation department's bridge and pavement management system.

But, to get there, the state will need to train everyone to use the new system. That will start at the top and work its way through to agencies. That will have its own cost.

"There is an element of state cost that has not been quantified," Childers said.

CGI's contract runs for eight years. Most of the system will be up and running by fall 2014, but there's a whole period afterward when CGI will remain on the job to make sure the system is running and running smoothly.

The financial portion of the system is expected to be online by October 2013. The system will start managing human resources and payroll by January 2014. The Department of Transportation should be fully online in summer 2014 and the portion of the software to manage real estate will be up and running by fall 2014.

Contact writer Ry Rivard at ry.riv...@dailymail.com or 304-348-1796. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryrivard.            

06/18/2012 - State officials eyeing new pay schedule

Charleston Daily Mail.com

State officials eyeing new pay schedule

by Ry Rivard, Daily Mail Capitol Reporter
Charleston Daily Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - State officials are talking about changing how often West Virginia pays its 45,000 state workers.

Currently, state workers receive paychecks twice a month, once in the middle of the month and once at the end.

Under plans being discussed by the governor, auditor and treasurer, the government would begin paying state employees once every two weeks. The changes, if they occur, are more than a year away from taking effect.

The new schedule would mean instead of 24 paychecks a year now - two each month - state employees would receive 26 paychecks in a normal year.

The change would not affect employees' yearly salary. But it would mean each check would be slightly smaller because there would be more checks each year.

Officials have already rejected an initial proposal to make the switch because it could temporarily inconvenience state workers during the early months of the switch because each check would be smaller.

But the governor and auditor's offices are both looking at plans that might make the change easier on workers.

The change seems small but it could be significant for state workers living paycheck to paycheck.

On the upside, they would get paid with more regularity. Under the current system, employees can go three weekends without a paycheck depending on when the middle and final days of months fall.

On the downside, employees would take home less in most months because their salaries would be divided into 26 parts instead of 24. That means workers would have to change how they budget their money to meet monthly bills.

State Auditor Glen Gainer, who supports the change, said employees would receive about 8 percent less paycheck. That means employees could have to re-budget to pay their bills.

"During the month they are receiving a little bit less money and it could cause them trouble in paying their rent, in paying their mortgage, in paying their car payments," he said.

On the other hand, the employees would receive checks more frequently. Under the current pay system, there are some pay periods that include three weekends.

"Most people live payday to payday and we have to find a way to minimize any negative effect this has on them, although I think most people would prefer getting paid every other Friday," Gainer said.

Currently, state employees are paid on the middle and at the end of the each month. While that seems predictable, it actually means paydays float around the calendar.

If a month has 30 days, employees are paid on the 15th and 30th. If it has 31, they are paid on the 16th and 31st. In February, which usually has 28 days, they are paid on the 14th and 28th. If payday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, employees are paid on Friday.

This pay method is known as "semi-monthly."

The plan being discussed by Gainer, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Treasurer John Perdue would move the state from semi-monthly to a "bi-weekly" pay schedule.

The discussions come as the state is preparing to combine numerous far-flung computer programs into a single system.

The new $90 million system will track a host of government expenditures, including pay.

It would be easier to program the new computer system if checks were cut every two weeks instead of on the more complicated schedule currently used.

Todd Childers is the manager of the computer project. It's known as the enterprise resource planning system but also goes by the more digestible name of "wvOasis."

"The project team feels strongly that it would be in the state's best interest to move to bi-weekly because it standardizes things," Childers said.

Gainer and Tomblin favor bi-weekly payments.

They, along with Treasurer John Perdue, are on a three-member board that helps oversee the wvOsasis project. A spokesman for Perdue, who is also a member of the board, could not be reached Friday afternoon.

A separate wvOasis steering committee recommended that the three-member board move the state to a bi-weekly system. But the steering committee was concerned that the change would put employees in a difficult position initially.

A simple example shows why. Under the current schedule, a salaried employee who makes $30,000 a year takes home $1,250 each paycheck, or $2,500 a month no matter what month it is. (The example doesn't count taxes and other withholdings.)

If the state changes to a bi-weekly system, each of the 26 paychecks would be $1,154. In a normal year, because of the calendar, there would be nine months with two paychecks apiece and three months with three paychecks apiece.

In those nine months, employees would take home about $2,300 a month - or about $200 less than they do now. They would make up for that in the three months with three paychecks when they received about $3,500 a month.

But if the switch happened in January 2014 - which is when the new computer system is supposed to be up and running - employees would go several months with only two pay periods a month, meaning they could end up behind on their bills.

"The first four months when the state switched over to that system, employees' net pay each month would be less than currently, then it would have popped back up (in a month with three pay periods)" said Tomblin Chief of Staff Rob Alsop.

To help deal with those first few months, Gainer said the steering committee suggested finding some way help employees, including a possible "hardship voucher" of some kind. That might have meant a bonus to employees because of the switch.

Gainer said the Tomblin administration rejected that idea because the 2014 budget year is expected to be tight.

Now, Alsop said the state is considering making the switch in December 2013 in a way that would not cost the state extra money but that would keep employees from getting behind the curve on their bills because of the switch.

"I think most of the options would have some sort of upfront payment to get them started but then they would make the same annual salary that they otherwise would have made," Alsop said.

The three-member board has already rejected one plan that would have changed the pay cycle, but Gainer and Alsop both said the decision was likely to be reconsidered.

One final complicating factor is that the current pay scheme is set in state law. So, the Legislature would need to approve the change.

Alsop said legislative leadership is on board.

But, there remains concern that the Legislature may end up balking for some reason when it meets next spring. That's a cause for concern because computer programmers want to get to work on the payment system now.

Officials believe they can be more efficient if the new computer system is programmed to pay on a bi-weekly schedule. But it would most likely add costs if the programmers began to program the system now for bi-weekly payments and then had to go back and re-program the system to the current, more complicated semi-monthly schedule if the Legislature failed to act.

The three-member board is expected to meet in coming weeks to again talk about the pay schedule, but Gainer said a date has not yet been set for its next meeting.

Contact writer Ry Rivard at ry.riv...@dailymail.com or 304-348-1796. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryrivard.            

12/15/2011 - Software to merge state systems

Charleston Daily Mail.com

Software to merge state systems

by Jared Hunt
Charleston Daily Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - State officials signed a $98 million contract for a new statewide software system Monday that they say will pay for itself in eight years and save taxpayers nearly $150 million within a decade.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, state Auditor Glen Gainer and Treasurer John Perdue signed the eight-year, $98 million contract Monday. It will merge all the various state agency computer systems under one statewide program.

The contract is the result of a 10-year effort to find a way to merge the 118 different systems across the state to keep better track of taxpayers' money and provide unprecedented levels of government oversight.

Officials are calling this new integrated system OASIS, which stands for Our Advanced Solution with Integrated Systems. The program will handle human resources, payroll, procurement and financial and treasury management. The foundation of OASIS is a built-for-government enterprise resource planning software package called AMS Advantage, developed by Fairfax, Va.-based CGI Group Inc.

The state will pay CGI $84.6 million over the next eight years for the phased integration of the enterprise resource planning software, also known as ERP. The additional $13.4 million of the contract will pay for third-party software licenses and maintenance.

But Gainer said this isn't just going to be a computer upgrade; officials will completely rework how the agencies do business.

"It is complete and total overhaul of the business processes within the state government," the auditor said. In a Wednesday press release announcing the system, Tomblin and Perdue said the new system is key to ensure the fiscal stability of the state.

"Effective, efficient government operations are necessary to achieve the stable financial status West Virginia has enjoyed in recent years," Tomblin said.

"We owe it to the taxpayers to operate state government as effectively as possible," Perdue said. "This system uses new technology to provide improved resources for our cash management staff and other state employees."

The state has faced a lot of criticism over the years for being ineffective at tracking things like state vehicles and cash collected from the public.

A 2009 legislative audit showed state agencies didn't control or supervise their employees' use of state vehicles or even know how many vehicles West Virginia owns.

In July, auditors knocked the state Department of Environmental Protection for having an accounting system that wasn't able to accurately track more than $19 million flowing through the agency.

An October audit revealed that most of the state's 182 agencies lack proper internal controls to make sure collections of taxes, charges and fees were being handled properly.

Gainer said the new system would take care of all those problems by allowing uniform business practices to be implemented across every single agency. "Everything will be handled the same across state government, and we'll all be able to use the same system to manage all of those activities," he said.

"If there's money attached to it, it will be touched by this system."

He said the implementation also would put the Division of Highways, which is using a system dating to the 1970s, on a platform coordinated with other agencies for the first time in history.

In addition to tracking regular state agency vehicles, it will track all of the vehicles in the highways maintenance fleet. Citizens will be able to access the system through a public portal. Gainer said that would boost transparency and accountability.

"It will give us transparency across every vertical segment of government," he said. "Not only can (taxpayers) look and see how we're spending money, they'll get into fleet issues, how many vehicles there are and where they are going. "It will truly make us transparent," he said.

The $98 million contract price is significantly lower than some other bids. Proposals varied from as low as $93 million to nearly $200 million to meet the 12,310 specifications defined in the state's bid package. CGI also prepared an estimate of the potential savings the state would see by using the new system. They calculated that by the end of the eight-year phase in, the state would have recouped the initial investment and additional hours it will have taken to install and maintain the program.

By the 10th year of the program, CGI estimated taxpayers would see savings of $150 million. Gainer said the contract also includes a software upgrade during the fifth year of the contract to keep the program as up-to-date as possible.

Contractors started working at 8 a.m. Wednesday to install the system.

The financial portion is expected to be online by October 2013. Human resources and payroll will be integrated by January 2014, and the Department of Transportation should be fully online by July 1 of that year.