ICYMI: Senator Ling Ling Chang's Op-ed in The Orange Register: "The state continues to fumble with technology, to the detriment of Californians"

August 20, 2020

…. We are the cradle of world-changing technology, but our government has relied on worthless technology and paid billions of dollars repeatedly for failed fixes. It’s proof that something is wrong with our state government—something that must change now.

In the past two years, we have suffered through massive failures by state agencies that directly affect the lives of most Californians. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), Employment Development Division (EDD), and the many agencies the Administration has tasked with COVID-19 response have put millions of Californians at risk because of chaotic and ineffective leadership.

For example, DMV has been a problem for at least 20 years. Endless news reports document its inability to provide even basic services without leaving millions of Californians standing in line for much of a day. …

But, DMV’s fiascos are not simply inconvenient, they also pose significant threats. DMV has been unable to provide driver’s licenses that meet federal regulations despite receiving millions in special funding for that purpose. …

Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom created a 13-member strike force of state employees to fix these problems.

The Employment Development Division’s (EDD) failed technology has stopped unemployment benefits needed by one million or more Californians who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of them have been waiting since March for unemployment checks they can use for to cover food, rent, utilities, and medical care, but EDD officials say the checks won’t come until September.

EDD has known its IT system kicks out many people who’ve qualified for unemployment benefits. The agency has paid millions in no-bid contracts to fix those problems without success and had an identical processing problem in 2010.

The agency awarded the same failed contractor another contract for $5 million during the current crisis to fix this ongoing problem. Neither the governor nor EDD has forced the contractor to fulfill its promises.

A “strike force” of other government employees is unlikely to achieve a different result. …

That’s why I have called for an audit of the EDD. …

Leadership at any level means accountability. The governor must appoint senior staff to tackle these challenges and ensure the services they oversee are delivered. He also must work with the legislature to create, implement, and oversee effective state government.

Click here to read Senator Chang’s Op-ed published in The Orange County Register