Vendor aims to get Maine software upgrade across finish line

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine has selected a new software contractor to complete the job of replacing the state’s outdated human resources management software — a project that’s more than four times costlier than envisioned.

Accenture, a global consulting powerhouse, is tasked with getting the project across the finish line after the state already has spent at least $35 million over six years and two governors without a functioning system, the Portland Press Herald reported.

The Department of Administrative and Financial Services, which fired the previous vendor, estimated last year that delivering a fully working system would cost $55 million, more than four times what was expected when Gov. Paul LePage’s administration launched the effort in 2016.

Accenture’s predecessor, Workday Professional Solutions, is locked in a $22 million contract dispute with the state after being fired last year.

Accenture was provisionally awarded a $10.9 million contract in February to implement the system for managing payroll, vacation time, taxes, health care and retirement benefits. The contractor edged out two other firms in a competitive bid for the implementation work, the newspaper reported.

In the meantime, the state’s 12,000 employees continue to rely on an antiquated software system that Administrative and Financial Services Commissioner Kirsten Figueroa described years ago as “being held together with duct tape and paper clips.”

State officials claim Workday failed to deliver a workable system but an investigation by the Portland Press Herald found that problems on the state side contributed to the project’s collapse.

The state eventually brought in a new in-house project manager to rescue the distressed project by hiring Figueroa’s husband, Doug Birgfeld, a move that ethics experts say should have been avoided even though it was legal under state nepotism laws.