US state government and defence IT projects face uncertain future

By David Bicknell

Local newspapers in the US are offering some insight into the cloudy future of two significant IT projects.

In Salem, Oregon, a planned $92 million upgrade of the state’s Department of Revenue computer system is reportedly on hold because the state can’t afford $13 million in start-up costs.

The Register-Guard website says local officials chose to put the  project on hold rather than ask legislators to make a choice between paying for the computer system and paying for public safety and human services.

The computer system is said to be responsible for processing $7 billion a year and 94 percent of Oregon’s general fund revenue, but officials are apparently concerned about its future effectiveness.

The agency’s ability to collect taxes rests on a “myriad of disparate, aging software applications and databases,” according to a 96-page business analysis the Department of Revenue produced in 2010.

Meanwhile,  in Beavercreek, Ohio, a US Air Force computer modernisation project which has already cost $1 billion, is said to be at risk of Washington defence cuts.

US Air Force officials have acknowledged that the Expeditionary Combat Support System project, on which at least $986.5 million has been spent, won’t be completed in 2016 as had been hoped. Work began in 2007, but the local Springfield News-Sun newspaper reports that the completion date has been repeatedly postponed because of delays.

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