After Colorado Media Matters' critique of her Rocky article, on Colorado Inside Out Bartels noted Owens' role in computer problems, but still spoke "in his defense"
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In an August 17 Colorado Inside Out segment about Colorado state government computer system problems, Lynn Bartels of the Rocky Mountain News stated, "Most of this occurred under Governor Bill Owens." As Colorado Media Matters noted, an August 14 News article she wrote omitted mention that a "flawed computer system for vehicle registrations that already has cost taxpayers nearly $11 million" dated to the former Republican governor's administration.
Appearing on the August 17 edition of KBDI Channel 12's Colorado Inside Out (CIO), panelist Lynn Bartels of the Rocky Mountain News said, following host Patricia Calhoun's observation that "we've had a lot of computer problems in the state," that "[m]ost of this occurred under Governor Bill Owens." Bartels' remarks contrasted with an August 14 article she wrote; as Colorado Media Matters noted, it neglected to report regarding a "flawed computer system for vehicle registrations that already has cost taxpayers nearly $11 million" that the system dated to the former Republican governor's administration. Colorado Media Matters also pointed out that, in contrast with Bartels' article, two earlier News articles by Ann Imse reported that problems with state computer systems dated to Owens' tenure.
Immediately after acknowledging Owens' responsibility for the problem during the CIO broadcast, however, Bartels stated "in his defense" that, after the Owens administration put several state computer systems out to bid after he took office in 1999, "the economy just tanked" and "I don't think they had the money to really properly follow 'em."
From the August 17 broadcast of KBDI Channel 12's Colorado Inside Out:
CALHOUN: So tonight we're gonna first talk about a story I believe Lynn Bartels did cover back on the job, when Colorado lawmakers heard this week that Colorado may need to dump a controversial and failing computer system used for vehicle registration that cost the state nearly $11 million. Members of the House and Senate finance committees also found that the state will then need to replace the system for an additional $10 to $15 million, million dollars. Lynn, you've been covering this; you know that we've had a lot of computer problems in the state. How do lawmakers respond to this news?
BARTELS: There wasn't really a lot new. I think they just kind of put it all on one meeting so they could kind of digest. I mean, the report on how bad this system was was released in July. They brought 'em in to discuss it, to discuss what Governor Bill Ritter's doing. Most of this occurred under Governor Bill Owens, but in his defense, when he took office in 1999, the state had all these antiquated computer systems, and, you know, you realize they go out to bid with them and the -- when the things are flush and then, you know, the economy just tanked. I don't think they had the money to really properly follow 'em. I think they did, in some cases these computer problems, poor bids, et cetera.
As fellow panelist Dani Newsum noted, Owens also created a "tech czar" position and "tried to elevate the profile of Colorado regarding technology":
NEWSUM: I know, Lynn, you offered some defense of the previous administration, but, if I have my facts right -- and, you know, I've been known not to -- it's Governor Owens who created this office of the, this, this "tech czar" office, and, and elevated, tried to elevate the profile of Colorado regarding technology, high tech. And if -- this is not the only, obviously, computer system that there's been problems with. There are woeful problems with the welfare computer and folks were going without their benefits. It would, it had launched a lawsuit. And it seems to me, if, if, if, if your true intent as a chief executive to elevate the profile of the state as far as high tech and that information highway, that one would make sure that the government's own systems were working in, in, working appropriately and not costing the state millions.
According to the February 1999 press release, Owens "announced the formation of the Cabinet-level Office of Innovation and Technology, charging it with the task of making Colorado a world leader in the development and implementation of 21st Century technologies and management efficiencies." According to the release, Owens noted that in Arizona motorists could renew their driver's licenses over the Internet and asked, "Why not Colorado?"