DOE pushes through delayed payments to vendors after financial system crash

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The Hawaii State Department of Education has started processing payments to vendors after restoring its financial management system.

On Oct. 6, the FMS underwent a critical upgrade, which encountered complications and resulted in a disruption of service. Primarily, payments to vendors are being affected by the outage.

Employee payroll and school food services were not affected. 

“Please be assured that we are working diligently to bring this critical system back up and running properly. We are making every effort to expedite payments once the system is fully operational,” said Amy Kunz, assistant superintendent and chief financial officer.

Over the weekend, the department processed and mailed out approximately $320,000 in checks to various vendors. The department also will be sending out nearly 2,000 checks totaling approximately $15 million in payments.

FMS has been partially restored, and HIDOE has implemented a plan to expedite payments in three priority areas: school facilities, workers compensation claims and special education services. From there, the department will phase in access to all schools and offices to begin processing purchase orders and payments.

Officials say they don’t want to overwhelm the system, and ensure all aspects are functioning properly.

“As part of our effort to modernize the department’s systems, including FMS, we have been working to upgrade our programs. This is a complex initiative due in part to the age of some of these platforms,” said Brook Conner, assistant superintendent for HIDOE’s Office of Information Technology Services. “Our goal is to enhance these systems to better serve our students, schools and community partners to minimize this type of disruption going forward.” 

Vendor-related questions or concerns may be directed to the school or office listed on the purchase order. 

DOE notified Sen, Michelle Kidani who says the computer system being used now by the DOE is from the 1990’s so this upgrade is long overdue.

“It was one of the number one priorities for the state as we felt that this was a system that was not going to last much longer,” she said.

It’s still not clear when the computer system will be fully restored. But once everything is fixed, then orders and payments can be done faster as they are made online. Until then, both the DOE and Kidani are asking for patience.

“I just will have to have hope and faith that whoever the vendor is that is working on this realizes how crucial the system is to us, our students, our keiki, our teachers, etc.,” she said.

We’ve also asked DOE how much it’s paying for this computer upgrade and what additional costs are there for cutting the checks manually. We’ll let you know when we get a response.

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