This supplemental combines two separate and distinct programs into one appropriation of over $8 million.
The first item is a $2.9 million appropriation that is half state funds and half federal for a case management IT system. There is no clear ROI for this project in terms of overall cost reduction, especially consider the overal price tag as summarized below from page 2-18 of the FY21 LBB – this is a $30 million software project.
“Child Welfare requests $10,696,000 in onetime operating expenditures for continued contract work to refine business processes for social workers and to transition from the current internally managed case management system (iCare) to a new software as a service based-system, Microsoft Dynamics. For FY 2021, the third and final year of the $30,000,000 project, the program plans to have the remaining three phases completed with the integrator (Deloitte) and the system at full functionality. The requested funds will be paid out to various contractors as follows: $7,698,000 for Deloitte, technical integrator; $2,589,300 for contracted staff; $197,100 for Change in Innovation Agency (C!A), business designer; and $211,600 for other services such as training and ancillary needs for the system and staff. The operating cost for the current case management system is about $760,000. However, the amount included in the base is closer to $1 million, and these funds are currently being used for other operating expenditures. The department expects to use the full $1 million to support the new system once it is operational.
A corresponding request for $2,876,000 is being requested in supplemental appropriation request 1 for the remaining funds for year two of this project.
The other part of this supplemental to cover foster care caseload growth. The growth from 2019 to 2020 is from 4,657 cases to 4,933 at a cost increase of $5.338 million or about $19,500 per added child per year. The foster care cost could be considered separately from the IT system supplemental.
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The Idaho Spending Index examines appropriation bills on several fronts to add important context to lawmakers’ discussions as they are considered on the floor of the House and Senate. Among the issues we look at in drawing a conclusion about a budget:
Does the agency requesting these funds serve a proper role of government? Has wasteful or duplicative spending been identified within the agency, and if so, has that spending been eliminated or corrected? Does the budget examine existing spending to look for opportunities to contain spending, e.g., through a base reduction? If there is a maintenance budget, is that maintenance budget appropriate? Are the line items appropriate in type and size, and are they absolutely necessary for serving the public? Does the budget contemplate the addition of new employees or programs? Does the appropriation increase dependency on the federal government?
Our analysis is intended to provide lawmakers and their constituents with a frame of reference for conservative budgeting, by summarizing whether appropriation measures contain items that are sincerely objectionable or sincerely supportable.