Wednesday, April 23, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Computer FENIX fantasies

EDITOR:

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.”

MORRIS BLUM
Placerville

Letters to the Editor

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Discussion | 22 comments

  • EvelynFebruary 20, 2014 - 8:56 pm

    VIDEO, BOS 2/11/14 - HERE: FENIX @06:13:56 (total 1 hr 9 min)

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  • EvelynFebruary 20, 2014 - 8:58 pm

    Supes OK $5.6M new financial system - HERE

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  • EvelynFebruary 20, 2014 - 8:59 pm

    County late analyzing software - HERE

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  • Phil VeerkampFebruary 21, 2014 - 7:23 am

    Thank you for the video link. I watched it last night. I tend to agree with "Opportunity's" assertion, "This becomes THE opportunity to actually hold the CAO and the DA accountable. Only the voters can solve the DA issue if there is a competing choice, but the CAO is fully in the Board's jurisdiction. Failure is the opportunity for corrective action."

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  • EvelynFebruary 21, 2014 - 5:21 am

    Why cloud data isn't as safe as you think - HERE

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  • OpportunityFebruary 21, 2014 - 5:36 am

    There is a budget and a timeline and both should be reported on regularly. Change orders cost money in computers just like change orders do in construction. However, a change order implies a deviation from a plan rather than customization to a client's needs or state regulation. Computer jargon is co-mingling with government jargon which kind of sounds like a mumble. There is a need, it will cost and there is some form of shared risk in getting the job completed......The real troubles begin when non computer people negotiate contracts with computer companies. Having IT services under the DA is the second problem, but that was the Boards final decision. Waiting until their existing computer system is completely unsupported is the third problem. BoS 3 is correct in not micromanaging the process because then five more people without any computer expertise are muddling the situation..... This becomes THE opportunity to actually hold the CAO and the DA accountable. Only the voters can solve the DA issue if there is a competing choice, but the CAO is fully in the Board's jurisdiction. Failure is the opportunity for corrective action.

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  • Sue TaylorMarch 03, 2014 - 2:20 pm

    I asked a FENIX team member who we hold accountable if this thing bombs.. I was told the D.A. Unfortunately few people in this county are awake... so we will see what happens.

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  • EvelynMarch 03, 2014 - 2:39 pm

    Sue: That's interesting. During open forum at a BOS meeting last year I had asked where the buck stops. (FENIX was one of 3 matters I had raised.) During a break Terri Daly came up to me to say that the buck stops with her

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  • Sue TaylorMarch 03, 2014 - 2:47 pm

    Hummm... well I guess they can share the blame equally...one to be dealt with by the Board and one the public? Do you think either will happen? The Board seems to be on autopilot with blinders and I doubt that the public is even remotely award that the D.A. is in charge of our I.T. System..

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  • EvelynMarch 03, 2014 - 3:49 pm

    Sue: Do I think either the DA or the CAO will be held accountable? NO

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  • Sue TaylorMarch 03, 2014 - 4:14 pm

    You are right... I was just daydreaming for a moment...well back to work...

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  • Ernie LouisFebruary 21, 2014 - 1:43 pm

    Phil, I agree. One thing for sure, the CAO runs the BOS. We have “Out of Control” County Departments and “Out of Control” Department Heads. The CAO is doing what she is told to do by the County Board of Supervisors or she is doing what she feels she can get away with. Either way, the residents can’t fire Self Serving County Employees, but they can vote for Supervisors and Candidates who will. Ernie Louis

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  • JimBoMarch 04, 2014 - 12:14 pm

    Tyler Technologies. City officials in Ventura, California filed a $1.7 million civil lawsuit against Tyler. The suit charges that company officials intentionally and negligently misrepresented their products and services. According to the complaint filed in California Superior Court ."Tyler missed every single deadline and milestone set forth in the contract and was unable to make even one of the 19 modules operational." Tyler Technologies. Spokane Regional Health District officials have stopped paying bills from Tyler Technologies Inc., a firm they are considering suing for selling them a $200,000 financial software system they say doesn't work.

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  • JimBoMarch 04, 2014 - 12:14 pm

    http://www.star-telegram.com/2011/11/22/3546208/fort-worth-school-district-puts.html

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  • JimBoMarch 04, 2014 - 12:18 pm

    “We have been battling (Tyler Technologies) for six years,” the commissioner said. “There has got to be some option, some route we can take to solve this.” http://www.palestineherald.com/local/x825333961/District-Clerk-reports-software-problems-county-OKs-letter-to-company

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  • JimBoMarch 04, 2014 - 12:21 pm

    The Fort Morgan City Council on Tuesday night gave a firm vote of no confidence to the city's current financial software vendor, Tyler Technologies, and approved an emergency purchase-based contract with a new vendor, Caselle, Inc. The problems with the Tyler Technologies software caused city utility bills to be late and incorrect month after month for all or some city utility customers, as well as various accounting issues for the city. http://www.fortmorgantimes.com/ci_19766445

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  • JimBoMarch 04, 2014 - 12:24 pm

    A glitch in the county’s Munis computer operating system left too little funds for worker’s compensation, according to county documents. The glitch since has been fixed, but not before it shorted the program by nearly $190,000. http://newstimes.augusta.com/news/2011-10-23/government-computer-system-still-has-glitches

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  • JimBoMarch 04, 2014 - 12:27 pm

    She said several other counties also have had problems with the Tyler’s software. http://www.oaoa.com/news/government/ector_county/article_73f79e9f-9d17-5601-bdf3-a021463252b9.html

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  • JimBoMarch 04, 2014 - 12:30 pm

    The Florida city of Crystal River seems to be suffering some terrible problems with a Munis implementation. To quote part of the article: http://questionmunis.wordpress.com/

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  • JimBoMarch 04, 2014 - 12:32 pm

    Fitzgerald says, given the errors she found, the controller should have stopped payment to Tyler as she once threatened to do. http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2012/09/17/county-controller-finds-problems-with-recent-reassessments/

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  • EvelynMarch 05, 2014 - 8:41 am

    Fishy County Computer Deals - HERE: What is really troublesome, is only a few months ago the max cost of this contract was $100,000 a year, or $500,000 for 5 years; however, at today’s Board of Supervisors meeting after some last minute funny business, the contract was increased to $2,000,000.00, or so we thought. The Assistant CAO, Kim Kerr then verbally doubled the contract at the Board of Supervisors to $4,000,000.00. ... When the Board was questioned about this expenditure by Sue Taylor, they looked like deer in the headlights. Just a few months ago, the CAO and Board tried to conceal this $500,000 contract and get it past the public’s eyes when in fact they knew the actual cost would be eight times more. ********** (Amador County redux)

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  • EvelynMarch 05, 2014 - 8:50 am

    HERE: The pending grand jury report was not a surprise to supervisors when Kerr was being considered for the assistant CAO position. District 2 Supervisor Ray Nutting weighed in recently noting, “Like anyone I have concerns when information like this comes up. This position was hired by Terri the CAO and I would hope that she did a background (check).” Ron Briggs, District 4, told the Mountain Democrat that he was aware of it, that CAO “Terri Daly had told us she wanted to bring Kim over from Amador County and she informed us of the grand jury issue. She wanted to make sure we were comfortable with the information. I was aware and had faith in Terri and it has turned out to be a good benefit to the county.” “As far as I know, we did an adequate background check, and I don’t believe we’ve seen or heard of any problems,” Briggs concluded. John Knight, chairman of the board, expressed unqualified support not only for Daly’s selection of Kerr, but also for Kerr’s performance in the time she has been with the county. “I haven’t read that report. I’ve heard about it, and I don’t intend to read it.”

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