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State “IT” Services: Legislative Auditor Releases Report Detailing Serious Mismanagement, Disregard for Legal Requirements

An audit of MN.IT was released today. You can read it here. The upshot? Our state government is not good at managing simple IT functions; our confidential data is not secure, we are paying for services that we are not receiving in a timely or cost-efficient manner, and consulting companies, hired by the state, are robbing the public blind while delivering failed products. This calls for a complete overhaul starting with the next administration. 

Here is the Summary page of the audit:

The Office of the Legislative Auditor conducted this selected scope audit to determine whether Minnesota IT Services had adequate internal controls over and complied with significant legal requirements for the Information and Telecommunications Account. The audit scope included appropriation transfers and expenditures for ITA projects. The period under examination went from July 1, 2014, through February 28, 2018.

Conclusion

Minnesota IT Services’ internal controls over the Information and Telecommunications Account were generally not adequate.

For the projects and legislative report we tested, Minnesota IT Services generally did not comply with significant legal requirements, including Minnesota statutes and its own policies and procedures.

Throughout our audit, we had numerous discussions with Minnesota IT Services (MNIT) management to gain an understanding of the Information and Telecommunications Account and the processes used to administer the Account. Since the inception of the Account, MNIT has changed how it tracks projects and accounts for project budgets and expenditures. As a result, it was difficult to determine basic information, such as the number of projects approved for the Account. Additionally, MNIT management provided us with inconsistent explanations and timelines regarding which policies were applicable to projects funded through the Account.

Findings

  • Minnesota IT Services did not provide adequate oversight for Information and Telecommunications Account (ITA) projects and did not comply with applicable policies.
  • The law does not state how Minnesota IT Services should handle money remaining from older Information and Telecommunications Account (ITA) projects.
  • Minnesota IT Services did not have controls in place to follow up on approved Information and Telecommunications Account (ITA) projects that had not spent money transferred into the Account.
  • Minnesota IT Services submitted an inaccurate and incomplete Information and Telecommunications Account (ITA) report to the Legislature.

Senator Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake), Chair of the Senate State Government Committee, responded:

“This report is another black mark on MN.IT, the same agency that botched the revamp of the Minnesota Licensing and Registration System and disgracefully wasted over one hundred million taxpayer dollars doing so. The Dayton administration has completely mismanaged this agency to the point of no return. The next governor should run—not walk—to sign the Republican bill that abolishes MN.IT and creates a clear line of accountability for future government technology infrastructure projects.”

Assistant Majority Leader Rep. Jim Nash, R-Waconia, issued the following statement last January regarding another dysfunctional executive agency ,  the Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS), following the release of the “roadmap” by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) seeking an additional $43 million in funding to fix the failed system:

“Following 10 years and over $100 million spent on MNLARS, Minnesotans deserve a working, functional system. It’s outrageous for a state agency to come back asking for more taxpayer dollars after such a horrible launch,” said Rep. Nash. “State agencies – like MN.IT and DVS – have been given more than enough resources and time to create a system that works for our residents. What we need now is results, not excuses or apologies for this ongoing failure. Minnesotans, deputy registrars, auto dealers, and lending institutions are depending on MNLARS to be functional. To date, no one has taken responsibility for this debacle, and for my part, I expect to see some increased accountability and respect for taxpayer dollars out of those in charge of this project.”

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