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Senate panel to question Deloitte, state officials on IT contracts

Representatives from Deloitte Consulting, Massachusetts’ new labor secretary, and the state’s purchasing chief are among witnesses scheduled to testify Tuesday as the state Senate continues its investigation into problems surrounding the multimillion dollar information technology contracts.

Deloitte, a New York firm, has built troubled computer systems for the state, including the Labor Department’s $46 million system for managing unemployment claims, which was delivered two years late, over budget, and riddled with glitches, and an online tax system that was so problematic that the Department of Revenue fired Deloitte in the middle of the contract, after paying the firm $54 million.

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State Senator Cynthia Stone Creem, a Newton Democrat and chairwoman of the Post Audit and Oversight Committee, said she has invited Deloitte officials to answer questions about system shortcomings that they did not address in a prior hearing.

“We’ve had a lot of problems,” Creem said recently. “How do we minimize those problems?”

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Creem said Michael Marino, a Deloitte consultant and lobbyist who oversaw the firm’s Massachusetts work, is expected to testify. Marino was scheduled to appear before the committee’s first hearing in October, but he had been relocated by the company to Raleigh, N.C. Instead, Mark Price, a Deloitte principal, told the committee that the state’s unemployment system was “a successful working system.”

Creem said Thursday that she called Marino back to testify because the “banter of everything’s great didn’t really fly. We knew everything wasn’t great.”

She noted that Deloitte computer systems for managing jobless benefits in Florida and California have also left thousands of jobless people unable to collect unemployment checks.

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The committee will also review the progress of another Deloitte project, a $76.8 million contract to build a new computer system for the Registry of Motor Vehicles. The contract was awarded in 2012, despite problems with the systems for the labor and revenue departments.

Rachel Kaprielian, the former head of the Registry of Motor Vehicles, was recently appointed the state labor secretary, succeeding Joanne Goldstein, who is leaving state government to work at Northeastern University. Kaprielian is scheduled to testify at Tuesday’s hearing, Creem said.

Gary Lambert, the official who oversees the purchase of technology services, as well as other contracts awarded by the state, will also testify, as will William Oates, the state’s new chief information officer, who in December replaced John Letchford, who left for a job at Tufts University.

Megan Woolhouse can be reached at mwoolhouse@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @megwoolhouse.
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