Wednesday, December 30, 2015


(sigh) $155 Million KOLEA project does not achieve all ACA goals–another great Hawaii tech product

by Larry Geller

A snip from a state auditor’s report posted just today:

We found the department did not properly plan for or implement KOLEA.  As a result, the department has been unable to achieve the ACA [Affordable Care Act]’s goals of creating a simple, real-time eligibility and enrollment process that uses electronic data to ease the paperwork burden on applicants and state agencies while expediting an eligibility determination.

[audit report, KOKEA System Report No. 15-20, December 2015]

It seems our Department of Human Services just doesn’t understand. Another snip from the Auditor’s short summary:

The department, which requested this audit, appreciated most of our recommendations but disagreed with our two primary findings.  Although it claimed our main findings are “incorrect,” we note that the department agreed with all but one of our recommendations.  Pursuant to our professional standards, audit recommendations flow logically from findings and conclusions and are directed at resolving the cause of identified deficiencies and findings.

I find it amazing that Hawaii continues to spend on space programs etc. when we haven’t even learned to code properly.

Instead of an audit finding that so much taxpayer money is being poorly spent or misspent, why not have a “chief technologist” or staff that reviews these things before they get started. Given an appropriate project plan, the bits and bytes fall into place. If the project is wrong or incomplete at the beginning, the chances that it will be correct at the end are poor. It’s called “garbage in, garbage out.”

The time to have fixed this—and other typical IT failures—is before a contract is let, before a line  of code is written,

Poor implementation has consequences. The auditor summarizes them:

… the $155 million IT eligibility and enrollment system neither incorporates all ACA requirements nor meets the Med-QUEST Division’s business needs. For example, KOLEA does not perform electronic data matching to verify applicant’s income. In addition, staff report that KOLEA is difficult to use and is error prone. The end result is that the State could be paying benefits for people who are not eligible for them or improperly denying coverage to those who are eligible.

This project, anyway, is not, like some others, useless, and perhaps it will work out in the end. So of course we’ll have to throw still more money at it to get there, won’t we?


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