The House Appropriations Committee voted 14-to-9 Wednesday to approve the Technology Reinvestment Fund, which includes $17 million for the second year of implementation of a computer system for Iowa’s state government.
That is on top of the $21 million Gov. Kim Reynolds allocated in February for Workday, a California software company that is replacing Iowa’s outdated computer systems for human resources and financial operations.
Rep. Chris Hall, the ranking Democrat on the committee, voted against approving the fund and said he thought the $17 million could be better spent.
“I’m not going to go on about the error of this Legislature in funding the Workday contract, which was not a competitive bid and seems to speak of questionable decisions and backroom kinds of deals,” Hall said. “The usage of $17 million from our general fund … should not be a higher priority than some of the critical areas that exist elsewhere in the budget.”
The Cedar Rapids Gazette reported in February 2020 that Iowa agreed to pay Workday more than $50 million over five years after sidestepping traditional competitive bidding procedures to choose a company with little state government experience whose lobbyist, Jake Ketzner, is Reynolds' former chief of staff.
Planned rollouts of the Workday systems at Iowa State University and the Iowa Department of Transportation were delayed, The Gazette reported.
The state of Maine in February threatened to break its contract with Workday and seek a refund after concerns about failures to meet product expectations and schedule.
Reynolds last summer planned to use coronavirus relief funds to pay for the first year of the Workday contract, but the U.S. Treasury Department and State Auditor told her it was an inappropriate use of those funds. She returned the money in December.
The $17 million for Workday is the largest line item in the Technology Reinvestment Fund, which along with the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund, is included with overall budget appropriation for fiscal 2022.
The expenditures still must be approved by the full House and the Iowa Senate to go into effect.
The Senate is expected to release its version of the Infrastructure budget next week.