* Six of the nine states noted that continuing to operate their legacy systems while simultaneously implementing new UI systems required them to balance scarce staff resources between the two major efforts.
In addition to the challenges facing individual states, we found that states participating in multistate consortiums n7 encountered a separate set of challenges:
* Representatives from all three consortiums indicated that differences among states in procurement, communication, and implementation of best practices; the involvement of each state's IT office; and the extent to which the state's IT is centralized could impact the effort to design and develop a common system. As a result, certain state officials told us that consortiums were not practical; one official questioned whether a common platform or system could be successfully built and made transferable among states in an economically viable way.
* States within a consortium often had different views on the best approach to developing and modernizing systems. State officials said that using different approaches to software development is not practical when developing a common system, but that it was difficult to reach consensus on a single approach. In one case, a state withdrew from a consortium because it disagreed with the development approach being taken by the consortium.
* States had concerns about liabilities in providing services to another state. IT representatives from one consortium's lead state noted that decisions taken by the lead state could result in blame for outcomes that other states were unsatisfied with, and there was a concern that the lead state's decision making could put other states' funds at risk. One state withdrew from its leadership position because of such concerns about liability.
* Reaching agreement on the location of system resources could also be a challenge. For example, one consortium encountered difficulty in agreeing on the location of a joint data center to support the states and on the resources that should be dedicated to operating and managing the facility, while complying with individual state requirements.
* All three consortium representatives we spoke to noted that obtaining an independent and qualified leader for a multistate modernization effort was challenging. State IT project managers and chief information officers elaborated that while each state desires to successfully reach a shared goal, the leader of a consortium must keep the interests of each state in balance and have extensive IT experience that goes beyond his or her own state's technology environment.
Both individual states and consortium officials had developed methods to mitigate specific challenges and identified lessons learned. For example, several states
* were centralizing and standardizing their IT operations to address technical challenges;
* found that a standardized, statewide enterprise architecture could provide a more efficient way to leverage project development; and
* took steps to address consortium challenges they encountered, such as ensuring that each state's IT department is involved in the project.
In our report, we noted that ITSC had been tasked with preparing an assessment of lessons learned from states' modernization efforts, but at the time of our review, this assessment had not been completed. Moreover, the scope of the assessment was limited to ITSC's observations and had not been formally reviewed by the states or Labor. A comprehensive assessment would include formal input from states and consortiums, the
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