Office of Children and Family Services

Development of the CONNECTIONS System Supporting Child Welfare Services

The Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) administers New York State's child welfare programs, which protect children against abuse and neglect and provide temporary and permanent homes for children in the State's custody. In 1995, efforts were begun to develop an automated integrated information system (CONNECTIONS) to support these programs. The equipment and software for the system, as well as certain system development services, have been provided by three vendors in contracts totaling $177 million.

We examined the procedures used in planning, designing, developing and implementing the system, and found that they were not effective. As a result, scheduled completion dates were not met, problems that should have been identified in the testing stage were not identified until the system was put into production, numerous revisions were made after the system was put into production, and many users were dissatisfied with the system. Moreover, because of delays in implementing the system, the final cost of implementation could significantly exceed the planned contract costs of $177 million. We also found that change orders to the contracts, which totaled about $53 million, were not adequately controlled. As a result, the needs of OCFS may not have been fully met and the costs incurred through the change orders may have been higher than necessary. We conclude that, unless changes are made in the approach taken by OCFS in developing the CONNECTIONS system, there is a substantial risk that the system will not be successfully implemented.

For a complete copy of Report 97-S-68 click here.
For a copy of the 90-day response click here.