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Waste Watch: Taking at look at the state computer system, wvOASIS

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Five years ago West Virginia bought a new computer system designed to integrate dozens of different systems and save taxpayer money.

With three years left to go before the implementation is finished, we take a look at where we are with wvOASIS and whether the program is performing as promised.

Introducing the WVOASIS computer program into state government is a complicated and difficult task. It's designed to merge more than a hundred different government systems, which is supposed to increase efficiency and create greater transparency into how your tax money is spent. But amid complaints from state workers that the system doesn't operate as advertised, legislative leaders have asked their auditor to take a hard look at wvOASIS.

"There have been complaints." Aaron Allred, W.Va. Legislative Auditor said. "And the issue simply becomes, are the complaints based on facts or are they based simply on change?"

Switching the state's computer system to wvOASIS is expensive. Originally, the 2011 contract with CGI, a Canada-based techology company, was for $98 million dollars.

Just a year later it ballooned another $12.5 million, and now it's estimated to cost more than $120 million,

The legislative auditor wants to look under the hood to see if the money is being spent wisely.

"What we're going to look at are some things like, the modules that the state bought that have yet to be used are they getting ready to roll them out?" Allred said. "If not, why not? You know, what's the advantages of modules that have yet to be rolled out to agencies?"

Eyewitness News wanted to talk with Department of Administration about wvOASIS and some reported problems with it.

That request was "graciously denied."

Instead the department sent and email with six bullet points outlining some of the benefits of the system.

Eyewitness News has talked with several state employees about their experiences with wvOASIS. Those workers wish to stay anonymous in order to protect their jobs. Here is a sampling of quotes from the department of administration spokeswoman and those state employees.

Diane Holley Brown with the West Virginia Department of Administration says, "wvOASIS Financial application has brought West Virginia into the 21st century by replacing an antiquated…system that didn't meet the needs of its users…"

But a state worker says, "If all invoices are now electronic, why are supervisors reviewing and signing a mountain of invoices every day?"

Holley Brown says, "…wvOASIS provides state agencies with the first statewide application to track employees' time worked, as well as the ability to manage all leave issues…"

But a state worker says, "If KRONOS (which is a part of the wvOASIS program) is so good at keeping track of time and accruing leave why do my time sheets have my accrued leave written in, instead of it being computer generated?"

Finally, Holley Brown says, "wvOASIS completely revamped and modernized the State's Budget preparation and formal approval process."

But a state worker says, "I haven't logged in to OASIS in at least six months. I have no reason to do so. In fact, It is supposed to process all of our workflows...We don't use it at all."

"Some things are good and some things are bad." Allred said. "To some degree it pushed some of the work out into the agencies that perhaps used to be done at the auditor's and the treasurer's office, but that very well may be the right thing to do."

It remains to be seen if wvOASIS will deliver on all of its promised benefits, or if the $120 million dollar investment will fall short of its goals.

State workers will have to figure out if wvOASIS is faulty and not what they need, or if the system really works and they're only struggling because any type of change is difficult.

"It's not simple," Allred said. "The state of West Virginia is a big business and doing this kind of change is not easy."

Allred says if his employees discover enough substantive information about the wvOASIS computer system in time, there is a chance a preliminary report coule be delivered to lawmakers during the next session of the West Virginia Legislature.

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