Friday, January 1, 2016

Big Trouble with NYCEwork

On December 11, 2015 NYCERS filed a breach of contract claim against enChoice, a firm that NYCERS had hired in FY-2008 to implement a replacement system for its then current document imaging system. NYCERS is seeking $1,444,570 in damages plus interest and costs.

Last May I wrote about the lunacy at NYCERS when it comes to Information Technology (IT) issues. I particularly pointed out the serious problems that NYCERS was having with its new document management/workflow system. The following are NYCERS and my comments:

Comment from NYCERS:

RECENT HISTORY Over the past nine years, NYCERS has made significant infrastructure improvements. Document Management NYCERS continues to ensure the preservation and security of all vital records and to promote an environmentally sound approach to document management. This effort includes the incorporation of all incoming documents into the NYCEWORK system in an electronic format and the ongoing digitization of historical paper documents.

In 2014, NYCERS prepared, scanned and indexed over 200,000 incoming documents and converted over 1 million historical records into digital images. Since the inception of the document management project, over 38 million paper records have been imaged, saving approximately $600,000 in document storage fees.

My analysis:

From this quote you would think that document management was introduced during the last few years. In fact, it was there when D'Alessandro walked in the door. The system in place at that time used a software package called Staffware. It was working well but it was being stressed by the volume of documents that NYCERS was dealing with. It actually continued to function up until 2014 when a new software package, Filenet/NYCEWORK, was finally put into production. I wonder where the $600,000 in saved storage fees came from?

Unfortunately, while Staffware needed to be either upgraded or replaced, Filenet runs significantly slower than Staffware did. That in turn has created incremental delays at every step of every process in the agency. It has created havoc with the production levels for all major functions in the agency.

In FY-2008, NYCERS hired the company enChoice to do the upgrade. enChoice is an IBM partner specializing in implementing IBM's document management software, FileNet. NYCERS labeled the upgrade effort "NYCERwork". Over the next four years the NYCERS IT director, Liz Reyes, had enChoice working on this project.

NYCERS paid enChoice the following amounts:

  • $1,609,278 in FY-2008
  • $ 327,141 in FY-2009
  • $ 267,465 in FY-2010
  • $ 25,941 in FY-2011
Then, in NYCERS FY-2013 Annual Report, the agency's executive director, Diane D'Alessandro, made the follow statement:


NYCERS recognizes the imperative to update and link systems that process memberships, evaluate service, calculate pensions, and handle requests for account information as efficiently as possible. In June 2012, after extensive preparations, we launched NYCEwork, our document imaging and workflow system. NYCEwork maintains images of every document in a member’s lifecycle, beginning with the membership application and ending with the final payment of a retirement allowance to the member or survivor benefit to the designated beneficiary. In order to create a complete, imaged record and continue all of the ongoing work that business units handle, the IT team had to ensure that all active and closed work items and every relevant document were transferred from the outmoded Staffware system into NYCEwork, while at the same time accepting new forms and applications for the business units to process.

With the filing of the suit it is now clear to everyone that Reyes failed to properly manage the NYCEwork project.

What is really frightening about this failure is that the suit in no way fixes the problem. The day to day production problems are still there. There are threats to the integrity and security of the documents that have been committed to NYCEwork. Based on NYCERS claim to storage savings I have to asume the original documents have been destroyed. In addition, I know NYCERS's backup and recovery systems are totally ineffective.

And this is the management that wants to spend $132M over five years to do do an IT legacy upgrade.

The NYCERS trustees need to replace the senior management at NYCERS. If they don't, five years from now they will be looking at more breach of contract suits, more broken systems, a $132M in losses (if they are lucky), and five lost years.

Doesn't it ever occur to anyone that D'Alessandro worked for Shelley Silver before she came to NYCERS and that Martha Stark appointed her.


This is not the first contract suit that NYCERS has brought against an IT firm. At the same time enChoice was ramping up in FY-2008, NYCERS was also working with IBM ($2.36M over two year) to convert the NYCERS file system to a DB2 database system. Reyes again failed with this project and NYCERS subsequently sued IBM. Cleverly IBM settled with NYCERS by giving them a 20% discount on the purchase of hardware and services capped at $1M for a fixed period. NYCERS was only able to utilize $250,000 of the discount before the time period lapsed. These girls are really on the ball.

What is clear is that over the last 10 years the NYCERS administration has failed to put in place a modern relational database system for its applications.

1 comment:

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