Someone is lying. There's no way it should cost $20M to change a number by 3 percent and check the results for all the different cases. I'm sure you could get a competent group of programmers to do it for $1M. That's assuming that the system has been coherently and sanely designed. From the comments about the ease of use of the system, one can say that the designers of the system screwed up. Let's see: overbudget by almost 100%, hard and expensive to modify, and hard to use for common cases. Yes, this is a design win that Accenture should be touing with every client.
And the company that built the system, Accenture Canada, said in a statement it was understood by the former government "that there would be new rate calculations such as these with an additional cost associated for testing them."
"This is a complex and large system — used by over 7,500 caseworkers, processing approximately 2 million transactions per day with an average response time of under 0.1 seconds, delivering benefits to 670,000 Ontarians."
The company said making a rate change will require additional testing against the more than 800 eligibility rules, such as residence type, disability status and legal status in Canada, special needs and income amount.
Pupatello said the government doesn't have a legal leg to stand on in terms of going after Accenture Canada, the contractor formerly known as Andersen Consulting, which has been paid $284 million. Additional staffing and training costs ballooned the price tag to about $500 million.
"The government was more than happy to sign off (on certain capabilities) ... a rate change for example. Rate change wasn't even on the radar, it wasn't even considered," she said.
The government suggests that fixing the welfare side of the problem would cost about $10 million, and the disability side would be about as much.
John Baird, who was minister from June, 1999, to April, 2002, said it was "laughable" that the previous administration was being blamed for the problem.
"At no time was it ever brought to my attention that we didn't want the capacity to raise welfare rates," said Baird, the Nepean-Carleton Conservative MPP.
People who have to work with the system have said it is confusing and takes hours to make even the smallest adjustments.
"In creating this massive system (they) that made it so damn convoluted that it takes hours to make even the most minor change," said a former caseworker, who added that it is so difficult to retrieve information that fraud cases have been dropped because necessary evidence can't be found in the computer.
Another government insider confided that the system is so time consuming that caseworkers are prevented from spending precious minutes with welfare and disability recipients.
Despite the controversy, Accenture's Web site has a two-page write-up about the Ministry of Community and Social Services contract, which the company says has saved the government $692 million by upgrading a 30-year-old system whose costs had jumped to $6.8 billion in 1995 from $1.3 billion in 1985.