Commissioner Kirsten Figueroa of the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services is pictured near the State House in Augusta on Sept. 10. Credit: Natalie Williams / BDN

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine said Friday that it intends to end a contract with a vendor first tasked in 2018 with updating its antiquated human resources system as questions swirl around the millions spent on the project.

California-based WorkDay, Inc. was told it would have 30 days to continue work on the Maine project after employees stopped working on it in mid-February, or the state would seek a $22 million refund for incomplete work. That came after Maine hired a third party to investigate delays around the project, which was supposed to launch last year.

Work has not restarted, according to a legislative watchdog’s report on a lawmaker’s request that the project be investigated, which triggered the termination. Attorney General Aaron Frey’s office is evaluating how to handle the contract dispute, according to a March 11 memo from Department of Administrative and Financial Services Commissioner Kirsten Figueroa.

The state sent a notice of contract termination to Workday last month, but it has not yet taken effect. Budget department spokesperson Kelsey Goldsmith said the state intends to end the contract as Frey’s office reviews the situation.

It complicates matters for the state as the Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee is weighing if the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability should look into WorkDay’s performance or how Maine oversaw the project. The panel decided Friday to seek more information from Figueroa before launching an investigation.

“Two administrations seemed to have problems with this,” said Sen. Rick Bennett, R-Oxford. “I think this is demanding legislative oversight at some level.”

The WorkDay complaint was brought by Rep. Justin Fecteau, R-Augusta, who raised concerns about the project’s costs and unspecified allegations of sexual misconduct within WorkDay during a March budget committee meeting. The budget department has since launched an investigation into those allegations.

Fecteau, who has not elaborated on the claims since making them, said Friday the people who brought those concerns to him are pursuing remedies through the state’s human resources department.

The project began in 2016, when former Gov. Paul LePage selected the company Infor to update the human resources system. That did not materialize by a projected 2018 start date, and the state began a new contract with WorkDay that year. Altogether, the state is expected to spend $55 million to upgrade its human resources system through 2023, according to the legislative watchdog.

The company provides a software system and consultation on how to implement it. Maine has said it has the resources to finish implementing the software system on its own.

A request for comment from WorkDay was not immediately returned.

Correction: The contract with WorkDay has not yet been ended by the state. The state is also expected to spend $55 million on upgrades to its human resources system through 2023.