Attention to detail keeps R.I. tech projects on track
BRASS TAX: The R.I. Division of Taxation’s new imaging machine operated by state Tax Administrator David Sullivan, right, and Daniel Clemence, the division’s chief revenue agent and head of e-government efforts.
Two monumental technology projects are in motion in Rhode Island. The most well-known one is HealthSource RI, the state’s health-benefits exchange that went online Oct. 1.
The less visible, but no less complex project is the R.I. Division of Taxation’s five-year, $25 million project, which began in May, to implement a new agency-wide computer system.
So far, so good for both.
The projects are going smoothly, with no real outages and no major issues, said R.I. Chief Digital Officer Thomas Guertin, who oversees the Office of Digital Excellence and serves as project director on major projects to integrate technology into state government.
To put it simply, Rhode Island is having none of the fiasco that happened with the Oct. 1 launch of the federal health care portal www.healthcare.gov, when millions of citizens tried to get online and the system had problems too massive to be called glitches.
“No one in the government made sure the many complex parts of the federal-health insurance website worked together properly, and testing of the complete site didn’t take place until two weeks before its Oct. 1 launch, contractors said at the first congressional hearings into the matter,” the Wall Street Journal reported on Oct. 25.
“That’s why projects of this scope are done in phases,” said Guertin. “We’ve had a successful implementation of our state health exchange, and we have two more releases, or phases, of that project.”
Both HealthSource RI.com and the Division of Taxation project called STAARS, which stands for State Tax Administration And Revenue, have individual daily project managers who report to Guertin.
“On a daily basis, we definitely feel there’s central project oversight and project management,” said Guertin,
While Rhode Island’s projects are small in comparison to having millions of Americans go online for health insurance, the Ocean State is, nevertheless, tackling some substantial tech territory and the STAARS project offers a good view into the required pacing and methodical approach for large-scale endeavors.