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Bottlenecks, errors predicted with today’s state government computer overhaul

By Eric Eyre, Staff writer

Despite months of training, state employees are expected to struggle with a massive computer system switch that starts today in West Virginia.

The group overseeing the overhaul has warned Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s cabinet secretaries about a host of possible problems: “bottlenecks,” “errors in processing transactions,” and “confusion and frustration,” according to a PowerPoint presentation obtained by the Gazette.

Also, state agency administrators should expect “lower productivity” from state employees and delays to “execute business processes,” according to the presentation given to Tomblin’s top appointees.

The computer system switch will affect every state agency’s financial operations and purchasing practices. More than 1,900 state employees have attended seminars to prepare for today’s changeover to the new system called wvOASIS.

“Regardless of the training efforts and preparation for the transition to wvOASIS, there will be resistance, anger and frustration to change by some,” said Lisa Comer, who leads the project’s Enterprise Readiness Team. “We also anticipate some end users [state employees and vendors] may not have the access they need for various reasons.”

To address the expected problems, wvOASIS has set up a “help desk” with technical experts standing by to answer questions.

“The help desk will be available to assist end users, both state employees and vendors, as they learn to navigate the new system,” said Traci Phillips, communications director for the wvOASIS project.

State employees also will receive additional hands-on computer training, if needed, at workshops in the coming weeks. Training manuals and videos are being posted online to “provide a refresher,” Phillips said.

“In addition, simulations have been posted to provide additional assistance...for 20 of the most frequently used steps in the system,” she said.

The state is switching over its computer system in stages. Today marks the third and largest stage to date. The change affects state agency budgets, accounting, inventory, purchasing, fixed assets, contracts and grants.

State employees’ purchasing card, or “P-card,” transactions also will be processed through the new computer system today. Vendors will be asked to turn in electronic invoices for the first time, and to submit bids for state contracts online through the new system.

State officials say wvOASIS will reduce paperwork and shorten lines at state offices. The system — expected to be fully up and running by July 2015 — will allow state agencies to share financial information, data and numerous records.

State agencies now operate 100 separate accounting and management programs. The new system will replace most of those.

“This is not an upgrade to an existing system already familiar to end users of the state, so there is a learning curve associated with something new and retention of multiple business processes,” Comer said.

CGI Group of Canada has a 10-year, $110 million contract for the project — also known as “Enterprise Resource Planning.”

CGI Group is the same company that developed the problem-plagued federal health insurance exchange website last year. The website faced numerous technical problems that prevented people from signing up for health insurance under the federal Affordable Care Act.

In January, all state employee payroll and personnel information will switch over to the wvOASIS system. State employees will receive paychecks 26 times a year, instead of 24 pay periods.

To contact the wvOASIS help desk, call 304-558-6708 or 855-666-8823, or email helpdesk@wvoasis.gov.

Reach Eric Eyre at ericeyre@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4869.


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