Six years, two governors, and $35 million dollars later, the state of Maine still does not have a fully functioning, modernized HR system. After the failure of its previous systems implementer, the state has awarded a $10.9 million contract to consulting firm Accenture to complete the project and bring an upgraded system to Maine’s more than 12,000 government employees.
The story of how Maine’s HR system modernization went so far awry is a complex one, with the original implementer, Workday Professional Solutions, currently finding itself caught in a $22 million contract dispute with the state after being fired by Administrative and Financial Services Commissioner Kirsten Figueroa in February 2021. While the state blames the company for the project’s failure, an investigation by journalists revealed a range of problems on Maine’s side, from bad payroll data to staff incompetence and even nepotism. Its existing legacy system is still limping along, as it has been for 40 years, but the single COBOL programmer that supports the system is nearing retirement and time is running out.
Accenture won out over two other firms in a competitive bid for the implementation work, having received the highest marks from in-house evaluators. The firm has extensive experience implementing Workday software systems for other public sector clients, such as the state of Iowa and the cities of Dallas, Denver, and Baltimore. The consultancy has a well-documented history of successfully managing complex tech projects across a range of public and private sector domains.
The state of Maine has taken steps on its side to ensure a successful second attempt as well, building in additional audit processes to ensure accurate payroll data is transferred into the new system, as well as contracting for an independent verification vendor to help assess risk and measure the two parties’ performance.
"We are hopeful that the combination of a new system [implementer], internal changes made to department processes, and an independent, third-party validation vendor will allow the department to make progress in implementing the Workday product and result in an updated system that better serves the needs of the state," said Anya Trundy, Spokesperson for the Department of Administrative and Financial Services.Maine Government Awards HR System Fix Contract To Accenture