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Audit uncovers flaws in state’s accounting system

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

When you try to manage a multi-billion-dollar state budget with three-decade-old software, problems are bound to happen.

An audit has found security flaws in the Department of Financial Services‘ antiquated FLAIR accounting system, according to a report released Friday. (FLAIR stands for “Florida Accounting Information Resource Subsystem.”)

The department is run by Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater.

Among those, “access privileges for some FLAIR and network users did not … restrict users to only those functions necessary for assigned job duties,” it said.

Also, the department’s “procedures and processes for conducting periodic reviews of user access privileges need improvement,” and other “security controls … need improvement to ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of Department data and IT resources,” the audit report said.

Atwater spokeswoman Ashley Carr has previously said the department must process nearly $90 billion in payments every year, and FLAIR is no longer meeting that need.

That’s why DFS continues to ask lawmakers for money to replace it with PALM, the Florida “Planning, Accounting and Ledger Management” system.

“Data security is imperative,” Carr said. “As noted within the report itself, we’ve addressed the few recommendations specific to FLAIR that were made, and we look forward to the continued progress of the FLAIR to Florida PALM transition project.”

Though FLAIR “has been repaired time and time again, findings will continue to arise that simply cannot be corrected on this more than 30-year-old system, reiterating the importance of the Florida PALM replacement project,” she added.

“As of May 2016, the Pre-Design, Development, Implementation (Pre-DDI) phase (of PALM) was in progress and expected to be completed in February 2018,” the audit report said.

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Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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