Commentary: FI$Cal Nears the Finish Line

“I look back on this tremendous effort, this journey we have taken on as a state, to do something truly remarkable — to replace hundreds of legacy systems while simultaneously on-boarding over 150 departments. The state of California has proven to have the most dedicated and resilient workforce while remaining flexible through this transformation,” writes Miriam Barcellona Ingenito, director of the Financial Information System for California (FI$Cal).

This commentary was written by Miriam Barcellona Ingenito, director of the Financial Information System for California (FI$Cal). It first appeared in the FI$Cal newsletter that was published Wednesday.

The transformation journey to achieve future benefits for the state of California required hard work and collaboration that started over a decade ago. Many talented state employees and contractors have contributed time and subject matter expertise to help get FI$Cal to this pivotal moment, the final release!

Headshot of Miriam Barcellona Ingenito.
Miriam Barcellona Ingenito, director of FI$Cal.
I can’t help to feel a bit nostalgic. I look back on this tremendous effort, this journey we have taken on as a state, to do something truly remarkable — to replace hundreds of legacy systems while simultaneously on-boarding over 150 departments. The state of California has proven to have the most dedicated and resilient workforce while remaining flexible through this transformation. Over 15,000 employees across the state learned how to use a new and completely different financial management system that required a change in how departments performed their day-to-day work.

Back in 2005, before my time at FI$Cal, this project started with a total of five state employees dedicated to replace one internal-facing budget system for the Department of Finance. Over the years, our scope grew to a fully integrated statewide financial management system and as a result, our staffing numbers grew and peaked in 2016 with 383 contracted system integrator employees, 352 state employees and a myriad of contracted staff.

IT projects of this scale contribute tremendously to the social, environmental and economic fabric of our society. They create short and long-term employment as well as delivering ongoing statewide benefits. Many of the amazing people who helped us build this historic project will be leaving in July, following many others that have already left during the past two years of transitioning from our system integrator-run system to our very own state-run system. On July 1, 2021, we will have 400 state employees and only 12 Accenture staff (that will roll off within 12 months) who will handle the maintenance and operations of FI$Cal.

It is my belief that one of the main reasons our project was so successful is that our employees, our partners and our stakeholders have not only executed this project as business as usual, but they also share and understand the value of being a part of this unique, “once-in-a-career” opportunity. Specifically, they share a blend of leadership, employee skills, mindsets, attitudes, behaviors and organizational culture that is needed to complement the science behind the development of the FI$Cal system.

That said, FI$Cal has many of the industry’s best and brightest when it comes to leadership, change-management and technical skills. Now that we are nearing the end of our project, I am supremely confident that our talented state staff are ready to independently manage, operate and continually evolve this enormous system for the betterment of California.
Miriam Barcellona Ingenito is the first director of the Financial Information System for California (FI$Cal) since its formal recognition as the Department of FI$Cal in July 2016. She began her tenure at FI$Cal in September 2015 with the benefit of 20 years of public policy experience in California state government. Her range of expertise includes legislative, fiscal, administrative and environmental issues.