Workers Comp Zone


“California, home of high-tech, has tough time upgrading own computers”.

When I viewed that headline of a Capitol Weekly article by Samantha Gallegos, I found myself chucking.

In the workers’ comp community we know about that after having watched the rollout of EAMS (the electronic adjudication management system) several years ago. But workers’ comp is not the only area where the state has struggled with tech.

It seems that the project to transition to a a new payroll management system, dubbed the 21st Century Project, is lagging and over budget.

Gallegos notes that:
“Gov. Jerry Brown’s rewritten budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year beginning July 1 calls for $14.5 million to wind down the operation and cover potential litigation between the controller’s office and SAP Public Services Inc., the system vendor that the state terminated in February as the problems mounted, said Jacob Roper, a spokesman for state Controller John Chiang. SAP, hired in 2010, was the second vendor to be cashiered. The year before, the state jettisoned an earlier vendor.”

Recounting the background on the project, Gallegos says:
“The 21st Century Project was intended to improve the state’s mammoth management process involving payroll, benefits administration, and timekeeping, among other functions. The goal reflected the state’s efforts to learn from its earlier miscues to develop a workable system.
But difficulties quickly arose.
A 21st Century Project test group comprised of a small fraction of state workers’ paychecks experienced problems — including under- and over-payments — throughout an eight-month trial run, according to a recent report by the Legislative Analyst’s Office.
Although the controller’s office was able to fix some of those problems, the state may still face litigation by those who were affected, the LAO noted.
The new and currently suspended system, called MyCalPAYS, was proposed back in 2004. Its initial estimated cost was $130 million and had originally been scheduled for full implementation by July 2009.”
According to the LAO, these figures ballooned to an estimated project cost of $373 million and the implementation date was pushed back to September 2013. At the time of its termination, the state had spent $262 million of its total estimated project cost.”

In workers’ comp we’ve been there and done that.

If it’s any consolation, EAMS does work, so the payroll project will eventually get solved.

With EAMS the glitches and hiccups have lessened over time. The critics of EAMS have muted. Parties have adopted workarounds.

EAMS is not an elegant system, reflecting the fact that it was based on programs written for other purposes that were adapted for workers’ comp.

It does some things well. Checking for filed liens, selecting MSC dates and filing settlement papers for walk-thru approval are among some of the things that are easier to do with EAMS.

Other things are cumbersome with EAMS. Long forms. Separator sheets when scanning. Occasional EAMS outages. Cumbersome moving from document to document when organizing exhibits.

Overall I’d give EAMS what I call a “gentleman’s C” grade.

Looks like the folks over at the California Controller’s office would settle for a C at this point.

Stay tuned.

Julius Young

Category: Political developments