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Hard to believe, but true - How a very large project fails

Seen this posted on MrDave's Blog. It's about a large project in Colorado that has started in 1995 and that as of today an estimated cost of $199 million. You have to read the whole story in, just hard to believe.

My favorite:

“It is my understanding that the CBMS system as presently formatted still requires counties to ‘make up’ certain data, including Social Security numbers, birth dates, alien status and other personal data in order for some cases to be processed for eligibility,” Louis wrote. “The state is essentially requiring counties to enter false data into the case portfolio.”

That glitch is especially troubling because detecting false information is key to preventing welfare fraud, Drake said.

The state Attorney General’s Office responded Friday, saying concern about false information is unfounded.

“Entering false data into the system is contrary to state policy and rule,” Wade Livingston of the Attorney General’s Office wrote in a reply to Louis. “The state cannot assume any liability arising from a county employee knowingly placing false data in the system.”

Computer programers for the state have established temporary fixes for the problems, McDonough said. In case of a birth date, for example, welfare workers have been instructed to enter Jan. 1, 1851, in some records.

It seems that they have abused of the "Garbage in - Garbage out Design Pattern" ;-)

With a $199 million dollars project that has more than 84 workarounds, one of them being documented on a 300+ pages document, you don't need to find where the fraud is :)

As always, please include the standard disclaimer.


Roger Heim said:

The Gazette article doesn't mention whether the programmers are state employees or are an outside firm. If they are state employees then it is very unlikely that anyone will get fired. When people are paid regardless of their performance, performance usually suffers. Add to that the normal tendency for a bureaucracy to take a excessive amount of time to make a decision and I'm surprised it only took 10 years and $199 million.

# August 30, 2004 3:57 PM

Christophe Lauer said:

I wouldn't dare to comment your statement "State employees are very unlikely to get fired" and to compare this with the situation here in France, but I pretty well understand what you mean ;)
# August 31, 2004 12:32 AM