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Key House R’s Looking Into DTMB Funding Following Critical Audit

March 28, 2017

Courtesy MIRS News

An exasperated Rep. Joe GRAVES (R-Linden) suggested Thursday the project management section of the Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB) deserve a “hair cut” after officials failed to convince him they were making significant progress on a critical audit.

Following roughly an hour-long House Oversight Committee hearing on the DTMB’s IT Project Management processes, Graves suggested the Enterprise Portfolio Management Office (EPMO) was in need of leadership after existing management had created a “disturbing” bureaucratic “maze.”

More than that, Graves said he’s concerned Michigan taxpayers aren’t getting their money’s worth out of a section of state government that he believes is failing to properly oversee critical technology projects.

“I’m referring this to the House General Government Appropriations Subcommittee to make sure the taxpayers’ money is being well spent,” he said. “The one thing I see here is that there’s a lack of leadership in your department.”

The Auditor General reported last month the EPMO had failed to document budgets for 42 percent of completed projects over a two-year period and, in general, was not bird-dogging the budget, timelines and customer experience of some 611 completed projects.

DTMB officials tried convincing Graves and the House Oversight Committee during its presentation that it was making steady progress toward addressing a problem they flagged in 2012 through a new program called “ChangePoint.”

DTMB Deputy Director Brom STIBITZ said the department is constantly looking at ways to improve and how it can do a better job for the taxpayers.

“We take this seriously,” Stibitz said.

But Graves wasn’t sold. He said he’d been in program management for several years and saw a seemingly aimless state government falling further behind on available technology.

“At this point, you’re a decade behind technology. You’re still trying to catch up,” he said. ” You weren’t doing your job 20 years ago and I’m not sure you’re doing your job now.”

The frustration spread across the committee. Rep. Steve JOHNSON (R-Wayland) asked how many DTMB staffers lost their jobs due to the EPMO’s failures, but was essentially told the answer wasn’t as black and white as Johnson wanted.

Rep. John CHIRKUN (D-Roseville) was disheartened to wade through the bureaucratic lingo and alphabet soup of acronyms, but, like the reporters in the audience, seemed crushed by the DTMB’s dense timeline and trickle of discernable progress.

“They’re sitting there talking about PMOs and EPMOs and I’m just sitting there thinking, ‘What does all this mean?'” Chirkun said.

Following Tuesday’s hearing, Rep. Rob VERHEULEN (R-Walker), chair of the House General Government Appropriations Subcommittee, said he welcomed Graves lateraling the audit to him and vowed to keep an eye what was going on with the EPMO and see if “taxpayers are getting the best value” out of this section of state government.

“I wouldn’t punish them, but I don’t want to appropriate a dime that isn’t going to be managed well,” VerHeulen said. “I don’t consider that punishment. Technology is critical, but it needs to be managed well. So I was glad Rep. Graves took it up.”

DTMB spokesperson Caleb BUHS said the department is proud of the work that has been done to set up a “nationally-recognized project management office” by “fully utilizing the enterprise-wide project management tools” to track project management performance.

“The majority of projects reviewed by the OAG for this audit occurred in 2014 or earlier, before the first EPMO director was established in 2014 and significant centralized organizational structuring was in place in 2015,” Buhs said.

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