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State’s MAGIC accounting system works, albeit with glitches

Bookkeeping-Service_rgbMississippi state government’s $100 million accounting system that launched July 1 made nearly 100,000 employee and vendor payments in July, but came in late on slightly more than two dozen contract worker payments.

Human error caused the 26 contract payments to be a few days late, the Department of Finance & Administration said.

In the meantime, though, multiple payrolls have gone out every week, the agency said.

Putting the Mississippi’s Accountability System for Government Information and Collaboration, or MAGIC, into operation “has been a massive undertaking and like any new system there is a learning curve and new problems to be resolved,” DFA spokeswoman Sherri Hilton said in an email.

The focus has been on ensuring no repeat problems occur, she said.

A Mississippi Business Journal story detailing MAGIC’s debut drew several responses from readers who identified themselves as either state employees or contract workers. They claimed to have gotten paid late or not all at.

“My contract that started processing on June 23, 2014, is still waiting for the state to give me a vendor ID number,” a writer identified as a Mississippi Department of Health contract worker said in an Aug. 6 correspondence with the MBJ.

“I have been working for them almost two months with no pay,” the writer wrote. “It’s still stuck at waiting for a vendor ID number.”

No replies were received to emails to the writers to the MBJ. The emails sought additional details on their complaints.

Hilton said without specific information it’s impossible to say why their payments were delayed. “There could be a multitude of reasons, including input errors, which were not uncommon under the old system.”

State officials have called the launch of MAGIC marked a transition to an ultra modernized way of managing state finances. The planning, procurement, training and start-up of MAGIC required a dozen years of work, including around-the-clock shifts in the weeks leading to the July 1 launch.

The system designed by SAP Public Sector Software  integrates and manages state government’s finance, procurement, fleet management, inventory management, grant management and data warehouse control. “MAGIC is like driving a Cadillac versus a tractor,” DFA Executive Director Kevin Upchurch said in response to the complaints received by the MBJ.

“It’s a completely different way of operating. Both vehicles have a steering wheel but everything else is in a different place.”

MAGIC has more buttons and gadgets, Upchurch added, using the Cadillac-tractor comparison. “It may take some time to learn what they all do and how to use them, but eventually it is going to be a smooth ride.”

The writers to the MBJ hope he’s right.

“I noticed I was supposed to be paid on Friday, July 11. It’s now July 13 and I still haven’t been paid,” a writer identified only as an “anonymous state employee” wrote on July 13. “All contract workers for the state were notified late Friday that no one could tell when they would be paid.”

The same writer wrote on July 25:  “Our paychecks were 10 days late last pay period. This pay period they are late again.”

Another writer on July 10 wrote: “Anybody noticed that it is 7-10 and MAGIC is still not up and running?”

A writer identified only as “John Doe” wrote on Aug. 13: “I have been waiting for my payments since June. The system services to the high-up folks at state offices. The state is ruining my patience.”

Upchurch said the new technology and integration of so many functions of state government to a single system is a remarkable achievement. “I’m very proud that the state of Mississippi has made great progress toward transitioning from our outdated accounting and finance system to a unique, state-of-the-art business and financial management system that will serve us all well.”

But, Upchurch conceded, “Even new cars sometimes have problems that must be fixed.”





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About Ted Carter


  1. Wait until phase 2 rolls out January 1st. That’s when it will either be Magic or Tragic. Stay tuned.

  2. Now they told us that we have to register in MAGIC to get a vendor number on August 7, 2014. Well it only took 10 minutes so we could have had the numbers months ago but no one told us this. Now people have turned in their invoices on August 11, 2014 and have been waiting for 14 days for a purchase order which still hasn’t processed or even been created I was told she requested Purchase Orders for the invoices and still has not received anything. Some vendors are calling the departments they provide services for with the state and are threatening to get an attorney. I am on invoice number 4 and the first 3 don’t even have a purchase order yet. So I have pretty much been told it may be months before I get paid. And I’m like but you still want my services? And they are like yes still keep submitting your invoices!! This is disgraceful people have families….school has started back and no one has any answers. No one seems to know what they are doing. I read your article today and they are a lie independent contrators have not been paid since MAGIC went live July 1, 2014. If they tell you they have it must be old ones no new as of July 1, 2014 contract start date have been paid.

  3. Now some independent contractors have resigned for non payment…..

  4. I am not sure if DFA is telling the whole story. I know of several contract workers from just one agency who have not been paid for July work, and it’s the end of August. There is absolutely no reason DFA did not operate a redundant system, or at least have an alternate way to make payments to vendors and contract workers. This payment delay has placed contract workers in financial turmoil as they detrimentally relied on the contracting agency to make payments in a timely manner. I view this as another DFA fiasco where they do whatever they want without regard for anything else.

  5. September 12, 2014 and no independent contracts have been paid since July 1, 2014….

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