Speaker of the Idaho House says new $120 million business system Luma doesn’t work
Moyle says state needs an ‘exit strategy’ if it can’t fix problems attributed to the transition to new system
In this file photo, House Speaker Mike Moyle, R-Star, speaks on the phone on the House floor at the Idaho Capitol on April 6, 2021, while he was still the House’s majority leader. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)
Speaker of the Idaho House of Representatives Mike Moyle told a state official Thursday to come up with an exit plan to ditch the state government’s new $121 million business solutions system called Luma if officials cannot fix the problems attributed to the system’s adoption.
“No offense, this thing is a joke and it’s not working,” Moyle said during the Idaho Legislature’s Legislative Council meeting Thursday at the Idaho State Capitol in Boise.
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On July 1, the state launched Luma, a cloud-based enterprise resource planning system, that centralizes all of the business, budget, procurement, payroll, financial management and human resources systems for all state employees at all 86 state agencies.
Luma replaces a patchwork series of legacy business systems that dated to 1987 and 1988 that officials with the Idaho State Controller’s Office said had outlived their useful life and were vulnerable to both security threats and natural disasters that could take a physical data center offline.
But a series of data entry and process errors have hampered the transition to the new system, the Idaho Capital Sun reported in September.
One of the consequences of the transition was state officials were not able to generate the official comparative revenue reports that allowed legislators and the public to track revenue collections against state forecasts that the budget is built around, as well as historic revenue collections from previous years.
When the state did release the first revenue report of the 2024 fiscal year on Oct. 20, the report included the state’s three largest revenue sources, but did not factor in other revenue sources, including miscellaneous revenues.
During Thursday’s meeting, Moyle suggested the problems were larger than had previously been publicly disclosed.
Moyle said the system is not user friendly, he cannot figure out how to access data from it and agencies across the state have asked for additional employees to function and figure the Luma system out.
“We keep hearing more updates, ‘it’s going to get better, it’s going to get better,’” Moyle said. “And all that I hear as an agency head is how it’s getting worse. So when is it going to get better?”
State officials had previously told the Sun that Luma training was undertaken and handled in an uneven fashion between different state agencies. But a report released Thursday to the Legislative Council showed that fewer than 50% of state employees had completed basic training in Luma before the system’s July 1 launch.
Chief Deputy State Controller Joshua Whitworth told Moyle and members of the Legislative Council that the Luma system works, but process errors have hampered what Whitworth described as the largest reengineering of business systems in state history.
Whitworth volunteered to personally walk Moyle through any problems he is having. Once employees and agencies gain confidence and expertise in the system in the coming months, it will provide big benefits in security, transparency, modernization and efficiencies, Whitworth said.
“Any change of this magnitude is not easy,” Whitworth said.
Moyle wasn’t satisfied, saying if things don’t get better in the next few months there will be a push from him and others to find another solution or go back to the state’s old legacy systems.
“My concern is there has not been one agency head or one employee or one person who has come forward having one positive thing to say about this,” Moyle said during the meeting. “I understand your comments about it’s a change. I understand that. (I’ve) been through this before, but I’ve never seen one that is as big of a disaster as this. We don’t even know the state revenues for the last quarter. That’s a joke. So having said all that I will shut up and you and I will talk later offline but I want you to understand that I’m not happy. I don’t like it. It’s a $120 million hole as far I’m concerned, and I hope that you’re looking at an exit strategy if you can’t fix it right away.”
The Legislative Council didn’t take any official action related to Luma on Thursday, but Moyle pledged to follow up on the transition.
Whitworth told Moyle the state would not be able to go back to its old legacy business systems. If Idaho ditches Luma, the state would have to go through the whole purchasing process and transition to a whole new system again.
Whitworth said he respectfully disagreed with Moyle and he knows that Luma is working and he believes it to be the best system for the state.
“Any other solution is going to be no better,” Whitworth told Moyle.
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