By Todd Smith | The Caledonian Record
According to a VTDigger report, the Vermont Department of Human Services is in the process of building its own technology to manage the vast network of people and programs that cost Vermont taxpayers over $2 billion every year.
The problem is that the “Integrated Eligibility and Enrollment Project” has neither a budget nor a deadline. IEEP is nearly 10 years old and it’s totally unclear how much has already been spent; who’s in charge; what the system will look like if/when completed; and/or what the price tag will be.
Vermont’s track record of mismanaging IT projects, meanwhile, is legendary. The $200 million website, derisively called “Vermont Health Connect,” set a remarkably high bar for techno-incompetence. From the sounds of it, IEEP may make that failed project appear a paragon of cutting-edge innovation.
This doesn’t happen in most other human organizations. Preschool children are taught about budgets. Their budget assignments have deadlines. Toddlers are held to some account.
We presume the people heading up government IT at one point graduated from preschool. So what, exactly, happens to these folks when they enter the halls of government?
In defense of this indefensible exercise, government contractor Dan Smith explained the human services department really doesn’t even know what it’s building so how the heck can it know what’s it’s going to cost?
“It’s going to be a year-to-year exercise,” Smith said. “We have to say, ‘What must we do, what do we want to do, can we afford it and do we want to afford it?’”
A technology project with no project goals, guidelines, budget or deadline? What could possibly go wrong?
Todd M. Smith is the publisher of the Caledonian Record, where this editorial first appeared. He lives in St. Johnsbury.