During the past three-plus years, we’ve been extensively involved in SMART 21, the project to replace the 20-year old state accounting, human resources and similar systems with modern fully integrated information technology (IT) that will serve all state agencies. It has involved nearly every state agency to assure their needs are met and the system works efficiently and effectively. And it’s been a cooperative and fruitful collaboration.
Ron serves on the executive steering committee for the project with the directors of the governor’s finance and administration offices. James is a non-voting advisor to the committee. Both of us have been heavily involved in this significant project.
In late August, a major Request for Proposal (RFP) went out for bid, with the deadline for proposal submission in November and evaluations of the proposals to be made from December through February.
This is a low-key ministerial matter, but nonetheless very important and should concern voters.
It’s possible all three current members of the executive committee guiding this vitally important modernization project could be replaced in the next few months at a very critical juncture for the project.
The finance and administration directors each serve at the pleasure of the governor. Depending on how much change a new governor wants to make in top administration posts, both could be replaced by the incoming governor. Such changes often happen when there’s a change in administrations.
Nevada voters will have little or no say about the tenure of those two executive committee members. Each will likely make his pitch to continue in their current capacities, and it will be up to our incoming governor.
However, voters have all the say on the third position, the state controller. The controller is directly elected by the citizens of Nevada, and who that person is going forward will be critically important in ensuring the SMART21 project remains on course.
What’s at stake? Likely, the new system will cost taxpayers between $50 and $80 million for the entire project, and will take the next four years to complete. A significant investment has already been made to establish the SMART 21 transition team and retain a contractor to assist with developing the RFP.
Also, much work has been done to re-engineer state business practices for maximum efficiency and effectiveness.
Experience matters in leading such projects. As a higher education regent, Ron was very involved at the start of launching a similar system for our colleges and universities. James has experience with large IT projects in the private sector.
We‘ve found our experience essential on the executive steering committee, in business process re-engineering and in RFP development. We expect it to be just as essential in selecting a contractor and overseeing system development, implementation and testing.
This project must come in on time and in good order or the state’s administrative systems will grind to a halt because vendor support of them is expiring.
If you retain Ron as controller, you will continue to benefit from his leadership and experience. He has committed to retaining James as his deputy. In addition to being immersed in this project from the start, we have experience rescuing a major troubled IT project we inherited and turning it into a moneymaker for the state.
Or voters can make a switch in the management of the controller’s office by electing Ron’s opponent. According to her LinkedIn professional profile, she has no experience in large IT projects.
She would also choose a new deputy, and the two of them would be trying to get up to speed on this major critical project at the same time they are learning two challenging and extensive new jobs. Being controller or deputy is only partly about overseeing accounting functions, as we have also been doing well.
This is not about Republican vs. Democrat. This is about management and broad experience, and the current controller’s office leadership has the experience necessary to ensure we complete a project to serve a generation of Nevadans with best modern technology at minimal cost.