Randall Bradford moved to Arkansas last year from Texas to supervise the state government's technology, especially the Arkansas Administrative Statewide Information System (AASIS), a high-tech accounting system. Last month Mr Huckabee unexpectedly fired Mr Bradford from his $150,000-a-year job, for allegedly being untruthful and unco-operative. Since then Mr Bradford has been a thorn in the Republican governor's side, producing e-mails from the governor's staff urging him not to work with Democratic legislators, and making it clear that the $52m AASIS is not quite the award-winner it seemed.
Arkansas's claim to fame in e-government circles is that it was the first state to pull together all its 148 state agencies electronically. Last July AASIS brought more than 35,000 state employees on to an integrated system designed by a German firm, SAP, which was one of the sponsors of the award the governor received (and also nominated him for it).
The system was originally supposed to cost only $22m. But the cost has doubled, and a mixture of over-runs, payroll foul-ups and delays in payments to state suppliers has irritated the workers struggling to master the new system. Mr Bradford adds that AASIS, which includes sensitive information such as tax returns, is “100% vulnerable” to hackers.
Mr Bradford claims that the governor's people tried to bury these failures. He was required to submit his reports to the governor from a private e-mail address (supposedly so that people could not recover them under freedom-of-information acts). Mr Bradford, who has been summoned to appear before the legislature again on July 19th, is threatening to sue both the state and Mr Huckabee over his firing.
The state is still squabbling with the federal Department of Health and Human Services about whether it should repay $9.4m in federal money inappropriately used for AASIS. And now the Internal Revenue Service has fined the state $164,000 because it took too long to provide the agency with $8.1m withheld from state workers' pay packets.
State officials blame the amount of time they had to spend manually compiling the information for the missed deadline. The governor says he is not afraid, and claims the whole thing is a Democratic plot. But, with Arkansas's budget spilling red ink, the idea that $50m has disappeared into a faulty computer system is not likely to make voters love him.