Olsen revives call for audit of state nursing board tech problems

kcarlson@modbee.comMay 21, 2014 

Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, R-Riverbank, has renewed her request for an audit of a troubled technology upgrade at the state Board of Registered Nursing.

Olsen wants the Joint Legislative Audit Committee to order a review of the BreEZe licensing and enforcement system, which failed when thousands of California nursing school graduates applied for licenses in December.

The proposed audit would investigate what went wrong with the purchase and installation of the electronic processing system. The $52 million upgrade was supposed to streamline license applications and improve enforcement databases for the 37 licensing boards under the Department of Consumer Affairs.

Olsen withdrew a February audit request to let the nursing board work through a backlog of 4,000 license applications, which was keeping graduates from getting their licenses and starting to work. Now that the backlog is eliminated, an audit is needed to evaluate where the technology upgrade broke down, a press release said.

“While I applaud efforts to improve services and customer experience, the exact opposite occurred with the (nursing board’s) launch of BreEZe,” Olsen said. “It is simply unacceptable for people to be held in limbo due to failed technology implementations. We need to get people through the system and into the work force. We need to make sure this never happens again.”

The Legislature’s audit committee will consider the request June 4. Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, is the committee’s chairman. Olsen wants to see a completed audit by March.

Gray, Olsen and Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, held a town hall hearing at Modesto Junior College in April to thrash out details of the licensing backlog.

Speakers at the town hall meeting said delays in getting test dates had prevented them starting their first nursing jobs at hospitals in the region. Medical centers in California are believed to have spent millions of dollars on traveler or temporary nurses in the first quarter of this year because they weren’t able to hire nursing program graduates.

Hospitals also struggled to meet to the nurse-to-patient ratios specified in safety regulations.

Several weeks ago, the Board of Registered Nursing in Sacramento launched an online application function to make things easier for people who are earning their nursing degrees this spring. Olsen’s staff said this week that it had not heard recent complaints from applicants who are seeking test dates.

By identifying what went wrong, an audit should help strengthen the state’s procedures for purchasing and implementing new technology systems for state departments and agencies, Olsen said.

Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at kcarlson@modbee.com or (209) 578-2321.

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