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February 21, 2013 | By | Posted in General News

Dated equipment holding back state audits, DePasquale says

By Melissa Daniels | PA Independent

HARRISBURG — State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said one of the biggest surprises he’s had in his first month on the job was the outdated technology he found office-wide.

“We had dial-up Internet as of the fall of 2012,” he said.

DEPASQUALE: The state’s new auditor general is calling for more money to upgrade technology infrastructure.

Computers in the office are between seven and 12 years old. On average, eight hard drives crash each month. And data storage is so limited that attempts to save more documents electronically instead of hard copies caused the IT department to realize there wasn’t enough room on the server after just two days, according to DePasquale.

The newly-inaugurated state auditor shared these concerns with lawmakers at the House Appropriations Committee budget hearing on Thursday, while asking for $1.5 million to invest in new technology.

“We have to find ways to improve our technology if we’re going to have a more efficient operation,” DePasquale said.

DePasquale also asked the lawmakers for a $3.5 million increase to cover pre-determined cost increases in employee pension and health benefits. Those increases are not provided for in the governor’s flat-funding proposal of nearly $42.4 million.

DePasquale, a former state representative, said he knows he’s not the only agency head asking for more funding.

But he underscored the need for particular technology upgrades with specific examples, alerting his former colleagues to a new concern.

“Most of our field staff, they don’t have a mobile device that allows them to their job efficiently,” he said. “I was stunned that was the case.”

DePasquale said a full assessment of technology needs will be completed in about four weeks, and he expects the $1.5 million figure will change.

House Appropriations Majority Chairman Bill Adolph, R-Delaware, said lawmakers will look into the situation, but need more information.

“This comes as a surprise to all of us,” he said.

DePasquale said he is already working to cut down on waste in the department, like eliminating 44 cars from the agency’s fleet. Duplex printing and eliminating hard copy audit reports will save more than 3.3 million sheets of paper annually.

But better technology will help the department be more timely and efficient, DePasquale told lawmakers.

“I think the message became very clear that if we’re not up to date on technology, if there’s waste in their own school district or a state agency, it’s going to be a challenge for us to find it in a timely way,” he said.

Contact Melissa Daniels at melissa@paindependent.com

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Melissa Daniels is a reporter for PA Independent. She can be reached at 717-350-0962 or Melissa@PAIndependent.com

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