A Minnesota government auditor voiced frustration Wednesday over kinks in an almost $70 million state accounting system overhaul that he says have led to delays and other problems in tracking taxpayer dollars. The agency responsible for the system insists past problems with the rollout are being adequately addressed.
The dispute dates to last fall when the Department of Minnesota Management and Budget disclosed that implementation of the SWIFT accounting system had caused delays in producing essential government reports. It boiled over again this week when KSTP-TV reported that some entities linked to the new system continue to be cited for tardiness with federal audit reports.
Legislative Auditor James Nobles told The Associated Press that his office has had issues verifying financial data of agencies it reviews because of the conversion to the SWIFT system, which he doesn't think has functioned properly. That includes an $85,000 discrepancy at the state lottery identified in a June audit report. He said he has raised concerns with top budget officials more than once, often over reports delayed by months.
"My biggest frustration is I don't believe the Department of Minnesota Management and Budget has given this the urgent priority that it needs," Nobles said. "We should not be willing to accept the kind of deficiencies in a computer system we paid a lot of money to obtain. The response shouldn't be, 'Oh well, these things happen.'"
MMB spokesman John Pollard said the department stands by SWIFT. It was developed with the help of private contractors during the prior administration to replace an outdated interface. It was brought on line in summer 2011.
"We can tell you where every penny is," Pollard said. "The system is working."
Gov. Mark Dayton, a former state auditor, said he's confident any glitches are being addressed.
"Minnesotans expect absolute integrity and absolute accuracy in our financial statements and timeliness and reporting," Dayton told reporters Wednesday, adding that agency managers have assured him SWIFT concerns are taken seriously. "They're well aware of the flaws that remain and are working hard to correct it."