More bailing on failed software

November 15, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

For over a year, Governor Robert Bentley repeatedly received warnings concerning the many technological and systematic failures under the leadership of Acting Finance Director, Bill Newton, and his assistant, Rex McDowell.

The time and attendance management system eSTART is just one of several software solutions to fail so badly; it had to be abandoned. A recent letter from State Health Officer Thomas M. Miller, M.D., informed the staff of the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), that eSTART would no longer be used to report time and attendance.
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State Employees to Work Overtime, Holidays Due to STAARS Failure

November 8, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

The State Department of Finance will miss its 13th Accounting Period Deadline because the $47 million dollar software program known as STAARS has maxed-out its user capacity according to State Comptroller Tom White. “Due to STAARS system capacity and ISD user identification issues, agencies have not been able to access and/or enter a large volume of 13th AP or current year transactions. This has affected all agencies ability to enter and approve transactions,” wrote White in a Nov. 5 memo.
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Lawsuit Filed Over STAARS

July 22, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—A lawsuit was filed late Thursday night in Montgomery Circuit Court, over the $47 million dollar black hole known as STAARS.

At the heart of the complaint is the no-bid contract entered into by Governor Robert Bentley and the State Department of Finance. The suit brought by State Auditor Jim Zeigler, who is suing in his official capacity and as an individual, will go before Montgomery Circuit Judge William Shashy. In the complaint, Zeigler is also representing, “a class of all taxpayers whose taxes are funding payment for the illegal STAARS contract.”
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Finance Embroiled In Investigation

June 24, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Varying stories about a law-enforcement raid on the State Department of Finance have been circulating in Montgomery and on the Internet.

According to several sources with knowledge of the events that occurred at the Information Services Division, law-enforcement’s seizure is related to a recently hired contractor, who was not properly vetted as required. The contractor had been given access to the State IT network without necessary clearance, which can, in some cases, lead to federal investigation.
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Pallets of Phones Gather Dust Under Newton’s Orders

January 19, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Pallets stacked with expensive Cisco phones, perhaps representing millions in State tax dollars, sit silently gathering dust in a warehouse, because someone at the State Department of Finance thinks they have a better idea.

After reporting on the botched rollout of the STAARS accounting system, more than two-dozen confidential sources have reached out to alreporter.com alerting us to myriad problems inside the Finance Department. An open record request has been made to the department, now over a month old, as its legal counsel tries to stall for time.
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Finance Spending Millions Per Year on New Time and Attendance System

December 15, 2015

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Not only has the State Department of Finance spent $47 million on this “failure-to-pay” software at the insistence of Director Bill Newton and his assistant Rex McDowell, but over the last two fiscal years, the State has spend nearly $8 million for an employee time log-in system, which just a few years ago was called a time clock.

In Fiscal Year 2015, alone, the State spent a total of $4,074,027.51 on this system.
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Assistant Finance Director Calls Texas Home

December 15, 2015

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY— Assistant Finance Director Rex McDowell, who has been closely associated with recent questionable State software upgrades, calls Texas home, where he owns SoftSwitch Communications, Inc., a company that offers fully integrated, hosted communications solutions, as reported by Bob Lowry in 2011.

According to Lowry’s report, McDowell, a Montgomery native, is registered to vote in Texas, holds a Texas drivers license and even though he receives a six figure salary from the State of Alabama, he reported on his ethics disclosure that he spends “one-third or more” of his time on his Texas-based communications company.
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Financial Software System Still Failing Despite Spin

December 14, 2015

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

The State Finance Department’s failed implementation of a $47 million dollar software solution has led to tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid bills, thousands of angry vendors, and frayed nerves, throughout almost every State agency, yet, it is still being dismissed by those responsible for the debacle as a mere glitch. The Finance Department has been telling local TV news outlets the problems should be solved in two weeks.
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Investigation Reveals State in Arrears with Thousands of Vendors

December 9, 2015

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Open Alabama Checkbook has not been updated since the beginning of fiscal year 2016. In an attempt to find out why,  alreporter.com investigated, and uncovered the ugly truth that the State’s new payment software has left hundreds of thousand of dollars in arrears with thousands of vendors waiting months for payments. According to three high-level agency employees, the State has fallen behind in its payment obligations since June of this year.
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