Computer FENIX fantasies

By From page A5 | March 03, 2014


On Feb. 11, the Board of Supervisors became much more skeptical and perturbed with the CAO’s quirky $5.6 million FENIX ERP computer system. Supervisor Ron Briggs stated, “Board not hearing it all; Board needs to see all change orders.” Supervisor Brian Veerkamp disagreed with Briggs and wants to keep getting more shuteye on autopilot and ignoring the expensive system change orders. The look on supes’ faces was as if the $5.6 million Grand Champion greased pig just slipped through their fingertips.

Supervisors are all majorly concerned with potential cost overruns, system non-functionality, legal compliance problems and delays, as the CAO promised the Board of Supervisors monthly progress reports, but it hasn’t gotten them. The system is still in analysis phase after spending $932,000 over a year and half ago, which really means a million dollars spent and no guarantee it will work yet — it could be a million or more of taxpayer money flushed down the toilet for all we know. Remember, this is the $5.6 million software system that can only handle four-digit account numbers. Does it use a 1,200-baud dial-up modem and connect to a rotary phone with alligator clip wires too? With all luck, a hope, a whim and a prayer, it may or may not be complete in late 2016.

All this time to develop a chart of accounts based on only four digits? Chart of Accounts still needs two more test passes, which means it doesn’t pass currently. The system needs lots of expensive, specialized contract consultants to complete, but the county is having problems with contract employees working on the system jumping ship to become highly paid, sleepy and overly paid county bureaucrats that do little to nothing.

Auditor-Controller Joe Harn states Tyler must change software to comply with California laws. Is it in the contract, Joe? System enhancements may cost $10,000 or $1 million extra each according to Harn — he doesn’t know. Harn stated, “Look, this thing is like a Root Canal!” He stated, “We have identified major gaps in the software,” and goes on to say, “probably going to pay extra money to Tyler.” (Hint: The county will pay dearly once Tyler gets its tentacles deep into the county). Tyler has the nozzle in the taxpayer tank and the county’s contract stinks, as it was predicated upon poor system delineation requirements.

Basically, after nearly $1 million spent over a year and a half, the project is still in its infancy and the county claims to be still in the “collecting info” phase. Isn’t the systems analysis and collection of info supposed to happen before winging it and awarding a $5.6 million contract to a single source vendor, CAO Terri Daly?

Daly had only two concerns, keeping staff engaged and maintaining a “no blame” environment. Then she made the quick comparison to another very poorly managed county project gone bad that is stinking up the place and costing the county taxpayers millions of dollars in budget busters, also known as the Myers Landfill project gone awry.

It wouldn’t be complete without the last-minute polished Shazam appearance at the end from the doubly paid Vern Pierson, part-time district attorney and chief technology officer.

I’ll say it once again Daly, “When pigs fly.”


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