Fairfield blames ND secretary of state for failure of technology project; Jaeger defends his work
FARGO - April Fairfield, Democratic candidate for secretary of state, once again criticized her opponent for not doing enough to speed up the technological advancement of his office. Fairfield called Secretary of State Al Jaeger "stuck in the pas...
FARGO – April Fairfield, Democratic candidate for secretary of state, once again criticized her opponent for not doing enough to speed up the technological advancement of his office.
Fairfield called Secretary of State Al Jaeger “stuck in the past” for what she described as his failure to complete a technology project that has dragged on for years.
“At a time when our state needs responsible government most, the secretary of state has presided over an office that is the very definition of government dysfunction,” Fairfield said at a news conference here on Thursday. “… The current status quo in the secretary of state’s office is unacceptable, and we need an office that can do business in the 21st century.”
Jaeger blames the project’s long delay on contractors who ran into financial problems as well as the project’s difficulty being underestimated.
But Jaeger needs to take responsibility for the project to update the office’s dated software system, Fairfield argued.
“He has started and failed three times with the current technology project and to this day there’s no end in sight,” she said.
Jaeger has noted he no longer has full control over the project since a separate committee is now overseeing it – a fact Fairfield said doesn’t let him off the hook.
“He doesn’t have control of the project because the Legislature took it away from him,” she said. “And the reason the Legislature took it away from him is because they were frustrated because they were spending money and years and years … were going by and nothing was happening.”
But Jaeger said the project was taken from his control because of a recent law requiring that expensive projects be overseen by a steering committee.
“When somebody’s from the outside and looking in and doesn’t know the history, doesn’t know actually what’s happened, I can see where it could be very easy to say that … it’s my fault,” he said.
Jaeger defended his work on the technology project, calling its history and struggles “well-documented.”
“I know what we’ve done, I know what we’ve encountered,” he said. “If somebody obviously wants to make a political issue out of it, I guess that’s fine. But, you know, it’s the reality of what it is, and people … have tried very diligently to bring success to this project.”