When Cronies Play, Taxpayers Lose

Updated: Sep 16

The new governor of this state just made a foolish mistake returning a former State Engineer to office even after I warned her in advance of his well-documented track record of failure getting New Mexico's water rights information administration system updated from the 1980s technology it is still mired in today (see New Mexico Department of Information Technology documentation links listed at the end of this post for details of that dismal failure). During his prior reign in office, he authorized trash canning of a powerful and stable multi-tiered rich web application upgrade to the system called eWATERS which ran on the J2EE framework, had been deployed to production and was running there for more than two years as more than thirty enhancements were added to it by the tiny but highly skilled agile development team of three (including me). I was leading that tiny team and we were kicking ass successfully adding enhancements in short sprints and supporting the new web app in production, including preparation for addition of another application server to the cluster which BEA agreed to license to the agency free of charge for the first year as we set it up and tweaked it for performance tuning as user count increased. Upon my supervisor's retirement, I was temporarily promoted (against my wishes) into her position as acting Chief Information Officer while the State Engineer found a permanent replacement. While working as acting CIO, he hired a highfaluting Stanford Graduate crony who would see fit within weeks of being hired to replace eWATERS with a fabulous new Business Process Management System built from scratch called WR-BPMS and proceeded to shut down eWATERS with the State Engineer's ignorant blessing. The new CIO barely tried to retain me, offering nothing worthwhile to stay for and thankfully so. Having never worked on a failed project in my entire professional career, staying on would have been too degrading an experience to have to live through. Disgusted by obvious acts of incompetence unfolding before my eyes, I resigned six months after she was hired to start my own business and then watched from afar via NMDoIT document filings as her ill-conceived WR-BPMS development project very predictably failed to the tune of more than $1 million in taxpayer funds with more than $300 thousand of which was paid in advance to the obscenely expensive contractor company hired to develop the custom system for BPMS software licenses which were never used. And this all occurred with absolutely zero oversight as it all happened. No independent verification & validation whatsoever during any phase of the doomed project.

In my opinion, this was criminal waste and I reported my observations to the New Mexico State Auditor's Office which agreed with my assessment that the project was predestined to fail and that oversight should have been applied, but in the end they declined to do anything more than send a "strong" letter of advisement to the Office of the State Engineer urging them to be more careful in the future. So I forwarded my concerns to the FBI in hopes they will someday investigate this act of incompetence–if not outright fraud–which so negligently wasted so much taxpayer money. Now that the culprit behind it all has been reinstated to office by the new governor and will soon begin again managing a new CIO to upgrade the antiquated water rights management system software still in use today, I'm going to make a little prediction I am certain will pan out exactly as follows:


  1. The reinstated State Engineer will hire another ineffective crony as CIO.

  2. Having absolutely no skilled software development staff to work with, the new CIO will proceed to hire an obscenely expensive contracting firm to design and develop yet another modernized water rights information management system of one sort or another (it doesn't matter which sort).

  3. The new CIO may hire a new state employee–very likely an inept crony–into the department to act as project lead to make sure the obscenely expensive contractor will deliver the specified product on time and within budget.

  4. The obscenely expensive contractor will proceed to develop nothing of any value and will most likely negotiate an increase in contract cost for the project after convincing the CIO that their project lead and associated staff sorely understated system requirements and that it is only fair that they get a lot more money to adjust for this gross understatement of requirements.

  5. The CIO will readily agree to this contract renegotiation request, possibly ranging into millions of dollars more than the originally agreed upon amount.

  6. The reinstated State Engineer will arrange it so the technology upgrade project proceeds through each and every phase without any oversight whatsoever–no Independent Verification & Validation, and no technical or financial audits of any kind–throughout the life of the project.

  7. The obscenely expensive contractor will most likely attempt to sell the new CIO a bunch of system software licenses which cannot be used until the water rights administration technology upgrade is successfully completed–including all quality assurance work such as debugging, deployment tuning, etc.

  8. The CIO's project lead assigned to make sure the project stays on track to successful completion will utterly fail to do so and will face no consequences for this failure.

  9. The new water rights administration technology upgrade project will fail, wasting every single cent of taxpayer funds spent on it.

  10. The obscenely expensive contractor will giggle gleefully all the way to the bank, the CIO and project lead will resign from their cushy, high-salaried, do-nothing jobs, and the reinstated State Engineer will be replaced yet again by a new governor and will face absolutely no consequences for yet another failure to bring New Mexico water rights information administration into the 21st century.


The new governor and her reinstated crony recently stated in a newspaper report that there would be "greater transparency" in the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer during her term in office. I suspect this is pure bullshit. The reinstated State Engineer will hire himself another PR hack to produce his always meaningless annual reports to list "media hit points" just as was the case during his previous time working in that office and taxpayers will suffer dearly for his continuing incompetence.

It will be a few years before evidence of the reinstated State Engineer's next failure eventually comes to light in NMDoIT document archives (if they are indeed duly filed as mandated per state law). So you'll have to wait for them to be located, reviewed and reported to see the sad results. In the meantime, the NMOSE cronies will play and taxpayers will always lose.

UPDATE 09/13/2020: Fortunately for taxpayers of New Mexico, the reinstated State Engineer has inadequate budget to tap into for another failed technology update, thanks to the pandemic. So my 10-point prediction of failure may not pan out after all. And this may be the case for a long time as the pandemic stretches on. I doubt this will forever halt all taxpayer funds waste by that agency as long as he is leading it, though. Failure is his forte.

The crony he hired to mastermind the failed WR-BPMS project and then went on to lead the City of Santa Fe into a multi-million-dollar technology update project failure is now head bean counter for the City of Albuquerque. How she might bring any level of damage in this new role to that city as she did to the city of Santa Fe is difficult to imagine. City auditors must be watching her every move like high-flying raptors tracking the UV-florescent urine trail of a skittering, ground-bound rodent, especially as taxpayer funds dwindle during this era of pandemic.