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Secretary of State’s Office Project Awaits Assessment

The Office’s California Automated Lobbyist and Campaign Contribution and Expenditure Search System (Cal-Access) replacement project has paused temporarily and is being examined by a vendor.

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Having temporarily paused an IT modernization project to reassess, a key state entity has plans to emerge from that process later this year.

The California Secretary of State’s Office (SOS) announced June 11 that it would postpone the scheduled June 30 rollout of the Cal-Access Replacement System (CARS). California Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber said then that the halt was “to ensure that the CARS project can fully meet its statutory obligations ... .” The SOS confirmed to Techwire the postponement is temporary and should lift by year’s end. Among the takeaways:

  • Cal-Access was developed, per the state, in response to the 1997 Online Disclosure Act, as “the public’s window into California’s campaign disclosure and lobbying financial activity, providing financial information supplied by state candidates, donors, lobbyists, lobbyist employers, and others.” The CARS Project aims to “implement a new data driven system replacing the existing forms driven system.” The project had its kick-off July 24, 2018, and the following year, SOS chose Virginia-based Perspecta (now Peraton) to replace the Cal-Access website at a cost of $12.6 million. Perspecta partnered with PCC Technology (now Civix) on design and implementation, with PCC handling the software aspect of the work. The current estimated project cost is slightly more than $43.7 million.
  • SOS postponed the planned certification of the Cal-Access system in June, the Office said, “after receiving internal and external feedback by those who had reviewed and tested the system.” The feedback showed “the system as developed at that time would not deliver the filing and data viewing experience to internal and external users that is needed for a system that deals with such a complex area of law,” SOS said. The project’s needs and goals haven’t changed significantly, the Office said, noting the law has changed “in a few ways” during the project — but not in ways that would materially change the scope of the initiative. An “independent assessment of the system with a third-party vendor” is underway, SOS said, and is expected to be done by the end of December. Elyon Enterprise Strategies Inc. is conducting the independent assessment, and when it’s complete, the Office said it expects to know more about how to make the system deliver the experience needed — and when it might be able to be certified.
  • Other private-sector companies that the SOS is working with on various aspects of CARS are BM Associates Inc., on Americans with Disabilities At (ADA) testing services and project management; Continuity, as the solution implementation manager; Infinite Solutions Inc. on quality assurance testing services; Infiniti Consulting Solutions Inc. on organizational change management; Outreach Solutions as a Service LLC (OSaaS) on system integration; and Technology Management Solutions Inc. on independent verification and validation. It’s currently unclear whether the project is likely to yield any related additional opportunities for IT vendors going forward. But, SOS said, officials expect to have a better idea on that once they receive the independent assessment recommendations.
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Techwire.