Amid a report that the price tag for the University of California's new enterprise payroll and personnel system could exceed half a billion dollars and the full roll out delayed to late 2018, here's what you should know.
In 2011, the university anticipated the UCPath system — Payroll, Academic Personnel, Timekeeping and Human Resources — would cost $156 million and be done in 36 months. Oracle was eventually removed as the project implementation lead and the project was brought in-house. UCPath will still use Oracle’s cloud system.
By 2015, the project was estimated to cost $375 million and would be deployed to all 10 campuses and five medical centers by the end of 2017.
Now The Sacramento Bee is reporting that UC officials estimate it will cost $504 million, in addition to a $26 million contingency. A UC spokesperson attributed the delays and additional costs to data conversion activities, additional testing and more accurate cost estimates.
But these increases shouldn't be much of a surprise because officials have been talking about the project's complexity for years now.
"We all agree, those of us working in the project, that the effort itself was vastly underestimated — which is to say, the complexity, and as a result the timeline, were not fully appreciated. And so the initial budget I look at as a very understated amount," then-UC system deputy CIO Mark Cianca told the Board of Regents two years ago.
UC System CIO Tom Andriola said last year during an IT "town hall" event that UCPath is the University of California's most visible effort to develop shared services. Andriola said UCPath is transformational and foundational for the university.
"It's not just about changing an IT system, retiring a legacy systems; it's about fundamentally thinking about running the university in a different way. It's about building a capability of doing things in a shared services model that is, quite honestly, very challenging and a learning process for the whole organization to go through," Andriola said.
The Office of the President went live with UCPath in November 2015, serving 1,800 employees, and they're now receiving their paychecks through UCPath.
Two years ago California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who serves on the UC Board of Regents and has repeatedly been critical of government IT procurement practices, blamed the project's cost overruns on flawed planning upfront.
"At the end of the day, it comes back to one thing, and that’s procurement: We got off the wrong track the minute we wrote the RFQ, RFI and RFP," Newsom said.