Thursday, November 27, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

PA punts fat IBM pact

Huge state contract gets pulled after overages and abject flops.

PA punts fat IBM pact

Here's a shocker: a huge contract to modernize the state's unemployment comp computer system ran way over cost, way over completion date and, oh, didn't work.

So the state Department of Labor and Industry announced Wednesday it pulled the plug: it's a classic case of good news/bad news, unless you're a taxpayer.

The contract, with IBM, started under Gov. Rendell for $107 million and was supposed to make the UC system work better than it does.

But it's three and a-half years overdue with a new projected cost of $170 million and, according to an $800,000 study by Carnegie Mellon, is unworkable.

Nice. And I'm sure there's no tax dollars involved in that study.

The good news is the Corbett administration, rather than burying this turkey, trotted it out and axed it.

The bad news is, well, good luck seeking compensation from IBM given Corbett's crackerjack legal team that, so far, lost a big case on the NCAA Penn State sanctions, flopped in an effort to privatize parts of the state lottery, has been unsuccessful in defending the new voter ID law (which is still dragging through the courts) -- all involving more taxpayer dollars to bring in outside counsel to help Corbett's crackerjack legal team.

IBM, according to a report in The Patriot-News, seems surprised by the state decision, claims it was never given the chance to review the Carnegie Mellon study and, according to a company spokesman, is "ready to work with the state to resolve this matter."

Well of course they are.

The best part? The Corbett administration can blame Rendell, after all he started it; Rendell can claim, hey, it didn't go bad on my watch; and the only ones who get stuck -- what a shock and what a surprise -- are the taxpayers.


John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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