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Paxton flags cost overruns on Texas child-support computer contract
April 3, 2016 – 03:57 am
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The call center at the Texas Child Support Disbursement Center in San Antonio, Friday, July 23, 2010. The facility processed 3.3 billion dollars in child support money which represents about 18 million individual payments in the 2009 fiscal year, according to Janece Rolfe, spokeswoman for the Texas Child Support Division. (Jennifer Whitney/Special Contributor)Update at 4:31 p.m.: Have included Accenture spokesman’s declining comment, and corrected a statement low in the post that originally said that last week, Abbott’s aides acknowledged a ballooning of costs. It was Paxton’s aides.

Original item at 2:38 p.m.: AUSTIN — A House leader said Thursday that he plans to investigate the state’s oversight of a major technology contractor after Attorney General Ken Paxton alerted lawmakers to cost overruns in a contract.

Earlier this week, Paxton aides informed GOP state leaders’ offices that an effort to upgrade computers at the attorney general’s child support division will cost an estimated $310 million, nearly 50 percent more than estimated six years ago.

That’s forced Paxton to consider forking over tens of millions more to Accenture — or suing the vendor and taking new bids for the work, which could cost the state even more.

“This is yet another example of why we need better contract management and oversight, ” House Appropriations Committee Chairman John Otto said in a written statement.

Rosaria Cobarrubias sorts correspondence documents at the Texas Child Support Disbursement Center in San Antonio, Friday, July 23, 2010. The facility processed 3.3 billion dollars in child support money which represents about 18 million individual payments in the 2009 fiscal year, according to Janece Rolfe, spokeswoman for the Texas Child Support Division. (Jennifer Whitney/Special Contributor)“I plan to call a hearing on this issue before the end of the year, ” said Otto, a Dayton Republican. “I expect committee members will ask a number of questions about the problems with this contract and how such problems can be prevented in the future.”

Paxton, who inherited the project from predecessor Greg Abbott, who is now governor, sent lieutenants to tell other state leaders that Texas may change its existing contract and pay out as much as million more to Accenture, according to a person familiar with the recent discussions.

Alternately, the state could sue the vendor and hand off the remaining work to another one, though that might cost as much as $100 million more, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

A Paxton spokeswoman confirmed that there have been discussions but declined to discuss details. Accenture spokesman Joe Dickie declined to comment, saying, “The Texas Attorney General’s office is handling all media inquiries on the project.”

Abbott spokesman John Wittman and Keith Elkins, a spokesman for Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, declined to comment. Wittman referred a reporter to Paxton’s office.

Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, confirmed that Paxton aides briefed his staff about the Accenture contract.

Source: trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com
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