Volume 4 Number 20
May 18, 2007

CFO SINK SUSPENDS PROJECT ASPIRE

Sink refuses to continue spending taxpayer dollars developing the troubled accounting system.

Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink announced she is suspending work on Project Aspire, the state’s unfinished and over-budget proposed new financial management system.

“We need to stop spending the people’s tax dollars until we have a clear strategy in place to make the project a success,” said CFO Sink, who heads the Department of Financial Services.

More than eight years ago, the state began exploring a new vision of management information systems, including accounting, human resources and state purchasing. The Legislature ordered a business case study, completed by KPMG in 2000, which recommended enterprise-wide, or universal, management information systems. Instead, the state began acquiring management systems in a piece-meal fashion, without a statewide vision for how each system would interact.

Intended to replace the state’s limited and outdated accounting and cash management system (FLAIR), Project Aspire has suffered from unanticipated delays, lacks an enterprise-wide focus and has not been guided by effective, strategic governance. Despite an original budget of $100 million (not including debt service) and completion date of February 2006, the state has spent $89 million to date on Project Aspire with no end in sight.

An interim report by Gartner, Inc., commissioned by CFO Sink in February 2007 to provide an independent assessment of Project Aspire, stated: “The State of Florida has not adhered to accepted industry best practices with respect to funding, planning and implementing Aspire.” After carefully evaluating the project’s status and its deviation from the state’s original vision, CFO Sink determined it was in the taxpayers’ best interest to suspend current activities and develop the necessary high-level oversight before moving forward.

“I applaud CFO Sink for her efforts to demand the highest levels of accountability for Project Aspire,” said Gov. Charlie Crist. “Large-scale projects will never be successful without the appropriate leadership and executive-level guidance.”

The Department of Financial Services will document the work product and preserve the project’s development, for possible resumption at a later date. The state will retain ownership of the hardware and software associated with Project Aspire.