The audit also says key decisions about the addition of 1,500 user accounts and privacy and security procedures have yet to be made, increasing uncertainty about whether the project will be ready on time. Even if the system were passing the tests, the audit says that is no guarantee it will work as intended.
"The complexity of the NCTracks system makes it impossible to predict all of the scenarios that could impact the project, even after it is tested in accordance with industry best practices," the audit says.
NCTracks is being developed under a 2008 contact with Computer Sciences Corporation, a software vendor based in Virginia. NCTracks was originally set to go live in August 2011 at a cost of $265 million, but that deadline has been extended nearly two years as costs have soared. The project is now the most expensive contract in state history.
In a statement released shortly after the audit, DHHS communications director Ricky Diaz sought to lay any blame for the problems squarely at the feet of the administration of former Gov. Bev Perdue. Diaz previously served as press secretary for the political campaign of Pat McCrory, who took over as governor in January.
"This administration inherited this project, and over the past five months, our team has been working around the clock to push NCTracks over the finish line by July 1," Diaz said. "We have already corrected many of the findings in the auditor's report since field work ended in March, and our team will continue to test the system to find and address as many issues as possible before the launch date."
The new NCTracks software is set to replace an antiquated system that has been used to process the state's Medicaid claims since 1977. DHHS first sought bids for a replacement in 2003, awarding a $171 million contract to Affiliated Computer Systems the following year. But by 2006, it became clear the system being developed by ACS wasn't working. The state cancelled the contract, eventually paying ACS $16.5 million to walk away.
When the contract was put back out for bid in 2008, CSC helped land the project by hiring former legislator and DHHS Deputy Secretary Lanier Cansler as its lobbyist. Shortly after CSC landed the contract, Perdue named Cansler as her DHHS secretary.