After errors hamper reports, Idaho State Controller’s Office says new Luma system works

Officials can verify the state’s revenue and expenditures on an unofficial basis through new cloud-based financial system

By: - October 3, 2023 4:30 am
Idaho State Capitol building

The Idaho State Capitol building on Jan. 11, 2023. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)

Officials with the Idaho State Controller’s Office are able to verify state revenue collections unofficially as the state transitions to a new, wide scale business system called Luma.

Chief Deputy State Controller Joshua Whitworth told the Idaho Capital Sun the Luma system is working, and raw, unofficial data in Luma shows that as of Wednesday, the state has taken in a combined $7.3 billion in revenue from all sources since July 1.

Luma has also documented more than $4 billion in state expenditures since July 1, according to a demonstration of the system that Whitworth provided to the Sun last week.

The state of Idaho transitioned to Luma, a new cloud-based enterprise resource planning system that all state agencies use to standardize their budget, procurement, payroll, human capital management and financial management systems when the 2024 fiscal year began July 1.

However, some state agencies have not completed training with Luma, and data entry and reporting errors have hampered the rollout of the new system, the Sun reported Sept. 22. 

Since Luma’s launch, the Idaho State Tax Commission has been unable to produce the official monthly general fund Budget Monitor report that legislators and the public use to track how state revenue collections compare to projections and historical data. State officials now hope to release a quarterly revenue report in October and resume the normal monthly budget monitor reports in November.


Idaho’s legacy financial systems were vulnerable to threats, Controller’s office says

About 100 state employees per pay period have experienced payroll issues or delays with their paychecks, state officials said. Whitworth said about 100 state employees per pay period also experienced payroll issues each pay period under the state’s old legacy systems, which were acquired in 1987 and 1988. 

The state’s old systems were outmoded and inconsistent, could not be updated, had security vulnerabilities and were reaching the end of their useful lifespans, Whitworth said.

“We’re going from a beat-up 1987 Chevy pickup to a new Tesla,” Whitworth said, describing the state’s transition. 

“Overall, this transition has brought about significant and needed changes for the state of Idaho, affecting all core business functions,” Whitworth added. “From a macro perspective, it has been a tremendous success, placing the state in a better position to meet future operational demands and address the needs of our evolving workforce. However, from a micro perspective, change is difficult, and we are doing a lot of change at one time. It represents a steep learning curve for our personnel, and they are being asked to take on a lot.”

The Idaho Legislature authorized and provided a funding source for Luma through House Bill 493 in 2018. The fiscal note attached to the bill estimated that the project would cost $102 million spread over five years. 

Because all 86 state agencies and all 17,000 state employees are tied into the Luma system, it will provide several benefits that weren’t possible before, Whitworth said. The system can report on the total number of state contracts with greater visibility, Whitworth said. Online reports in the Luma system include links to the original documents, directly connecting transactions from contract to purchase order to expenditure. State employees can complete their time cards and apply for any job with the state directly through the system.

Luma is more resilient against cyberattacks and the cloud-based nature of the system protects the state from catastrophic damage that a flood, fire, earthquake or other disaster could cause to a physical data center.

“If a catastrophe happens, we’re up and running,” Whitworth said. “We are able to pay people. We are able to pay the bills.”

Rep. Wendy Horman, an Idaho Falls Republican who serves as the co-chair of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, said agencies have been inconsistent with their training and it’s concerning not having an official revenue report three months into the state’s fiscal year. But Horman said Luma will improve the state’s system and offer benefits that that 35-year-old legacy systems couldn’t

​​“The benefits we are going to get from Luma in the long run I believe will compensate for some short-term pain,” Horman told the Sun on Sept. 22.

Whitworth said the State Controller’s Office is continuing to provide training and assistance to state agencies. As part of the transition to Luma, the Division of Financial Management and State Controller’s Office are working with the Idaho State Tax Commission on the comparative report the commission uses in its revenue report. That report will be available some time in October, Whitworth said. 

If the state could start the process over again, Whitworth said he would build in more time for training with the benefit of hindsight. Whitworth said state employees already have a heavy workload, and the state has struggled to recruit and retain financial professionals that have experience with accounting and transactional data entry into complex systems like Luma. 

State employees are being asked to relearn numerous tasks, and the scale of change is massive. But Whitworth said state agencies are in a better position today than they were in July. 

“​I’d say we are in a much better sport where agencies are getting more confident with what they are doing on the system,” Whitworth said.


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Clark Corbin
Clark Corbin

Clark Corbin has more than a decade of experience covering Idaho government and politics. He has covered every Idaho legislative session since 2011 gavel-to-gavel. Prior to joining the Idaho Capital Sun he reported for the Idaho Falls Post Register and Idaho Education News. His reporting in Idaho has helped uncover a multimillion-dollar investment scam and exposed inaccurate data that school districts submitted to the state.