Earlier this month, I wrote about how when Terri Lynn Land was Secretary of State of Michigan from 2003-2011, her mismanagement resulted in her office wasting $350,000 of taxpayer money. It turns out that $350,000 was just the tip of the iceberg. Her mismanagement of a massive computer system upgrade during her time as Secretary of State resulted in a boondoggle that wasted over $40 million in taxpayer funds.
In September of 2003, nine months after Land took office as the Secretary of State, the Department of State she oversaw undertook a project called Business Application Modernization (BAM). The state legislature appropriated $35 million for the multi-year project. However, a 2012 audit by the State Auditor General faulted Land’s Department of State (DOS), along with the Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB), with having squandered over $40 million with little, if anything, to show for it.
Here are some of the key findings from the audit:
- DOS and DTMB’s efforts to provide oversight of the development of the BAM project were not effective
- DOS did not ensure that all payments to its development contractor were made in compliance with contract terms or BAM project procedures
- DOS and DTMB did not sufficiently assess the impact of significant changes to the BAM project
- DOS did not report complete and accurate information about the cost and status of the BAM project to the Legislatur
- DOS and DTMB did not prepare, or ensure that the development contractor prepared and sufficiently updated, all required project documentation
- DOS and DTMB had not implemented all aspects of an effective quality management function for the BAM project
- DOS and DTMB did not identify all costs associated with the BAM project
The DTMB was implicated along with Land’s Department of State in all but one of these key findings, the second in the list. That one bears a further look because it is where the wasted money is detailed.
As it turns out, the vendor, Electronic Data Systems (EDS) – a company where Governor John Engler landed a top level job after he left office – had been paid $27.6 of its $35.6 million development contract as June 30, 2011 when the audit took place. In addition, $15.3 million in state government employee salaries were paid as part of the project, for a total of $42.9 million.
How far along was the project at that point? Let’s let Ruth Johnson, Terri Lynn Land’s successor, spell it out. This is from her “State of the Secretary of State” address shortly after she took office:
This was supposed to revolutionize the way the Secretary of State Office did business and put our services online 24/7. Instead, it has never worked — not a single day, not a single hour, not a single minute.
You can watch Johnson utter these words in this new ad by the Peters campaign:
EDS, which was purchased by Hewlitt-Packard in 2008, managed to get paid $27.6 million for a system that was completely non-functional. It’s pretty impressive, really.
A year and a half after the scathing audit, journalist Tim Skubick circled back to Terri Lynn Land to ask her how she felt about the Auditor General’s report (which came out over a year after she left office.) Her response was epic:
It’s Ruth’s gig now.
So, there you have it. Terri Lynn Land was personally responsible for wasting over $40 million in taxpayer dollars and then left office, dumping it into the lap of her successor.
It turns out that Terri Lynn Land isn’t just unqualified for the job she wants as a United States Senator, she wasn’t qualified for the job she already held as Secretary of State. And yet she has the audacity to run on that record as if it is some sort of feather in her cap, an example of leadership.
It’s an example of leadership, alright. POOR leadership. FAILED leadership.
Not ready for prime time then. Not ready for prime time now. Terri Lynn Land, the Michigan Embarrassment™.