Budget conference: Senate, House budgets both set aside $54M to upgrade to PALM

Quantum computing concept. Processor of quantum computer. 3D rendered illustration.
Jimmy Patronis has pushed to transition away from FLAIR for years.

The ultimate software update may have just downloaded another $54.3 million, in dollars, not data.

The latest offer from the Senate Agriculture, Environment, and General Government Appropriations Committee rings in with that much and more to upgrade the state’s 1980s-era software system.

The amount dollar-for-dollar matches the last offer from the House State Administration and Technology Appropriations Subcommittee.

That likely means the chambers have come together on one of the most expensive technology appropriations items.

The Florida Accounting and Information Resource, or FLAIR, is an accounting system still used for much of the state’s accounting and financial management functions. That’s a system that on some level has been used since before many lawmakers were born. It has borne its current name since 1997, but a version of FLAIR called the State Automated Management Accounting System, or SAMAS, was in use before that.

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis after his first full term pushed for an upgrade to Florida Planning, Accounting, and Ledger Management, or PALM, a custom software system developed for modern technological demands.

The state has been transitioning to the new system for years, and state officials have wanted all payroll and department availability up and running by July this year.

The first wave of PALM implementation kicked off in mid-2021. An entire transition should be completed in July 2027, according to state timelines.

The funding for the upgrade will come from state trust funds, as proposed by Senate budget writers.

Importantly, the proposal from the Senate remains an offer, and the House has not yet agreed to it. But the chambers before the latest offer were about $2 million apart in what to invest in the upgrade this year. Now the dollar amounts align between the upper and lower chamber of the Legislature.

The spending is part of the budget for the Department of Financial Services.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].

One comment

  • Dont Say FLA

    February 29, 2024 at 7:50 am

    It costs $55 million MORE than some existing amount to replace a 1980s computer system?

    How complicated could something have been before computer networking existed beyond 9600 baud modems, computers had maybe 256K RAM, and i286 processors at best?

    Hint: If you want to save hundreds of millions of dollars and also have the project be completed, what you do is you replicate the old system exactly using modern technology. Once it works exactly as the old system worked, then and only then do you try to update it.

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