Troubles with expensive county computer acquisition

By From page A5 | October 11, 2013


A long overdue update was recently given on the county’s struggling $5.6 million acquisition of an ERP computer system. Teri Daly, CAO, described it as 20 percent complete and the project is on budget and on schedule. Nice shoot from the hip round number Daly.

The expensive software doesn’t perform three major critical functions and other state legal requirements. No written guarantees are provided by Tyler Technologies. The software only handles 4-digit account numbers. It’s apparent that the CAO jumped the gun on this $5.6 million software. Homework first would have entailed much less needs analysis studies and would have fleshed out these problems before committing millions of dollars of taxpayer money. The recent ERP Charter Report is merely an ex post facto deliberation to make it appear as if the county did its homework prior to the investment decision — it didn’t.

Daly admitted she doesn’t know about this technological stuff, as she has a liberal arts type of college education. Someone should teach her the basics like where the kill switch is or how to pull the plug. Partial blame rests with a chief technology officer who moonlights as a DA — no conflict of interest there.

Daly referred to the process as a “dance.” Will it turn into a slam dance and chest bumping with the vendor over system requirements that weren’t properly delineated by the county?

The county’s relying on a software vendor to perform systems analysis afterwards is a dangerous and backwards way of doing it. If Tyler’s software won’t meet the county’s needs, it’s back to square one with a hefty foregone cost and a lot of finger-pointing. Vern Pierson leaped from the crowd to assure us that everything is fine. Vern got his computer degree back when they were still using mainframes and software programs were written on punched cardboard cards. It’s also apparent from his comments that our DA/CTO is applying legal intimidation to vice presidents at Tyler to push for project success. A little legal intimidation to fix thousands of lines of computer code that don’t deliver what the county requires?

Big round numbers provided by Daly as to projected software efficiency gains of 10 percent or 27 county positions at $100,000 per employee per year is $2.7 million. Later she quipped out of thin air a potential savings of $3 million to $10 million per year. Yeah, when pigs fly.

She argued that blindly spending oodles of money and flying blind by the seat of the pants was the best solution. Daly and Pierson signed the late Project Charter report, but Joe Harn refused. I can’t blame Joe, it’s probably not good to stick your neck out and have it taken off by this runaway train wreck. Harn went on to state that he has significant concern with the language in the charter drafted by county staff and administration. When Harn described the Tyler analysis process as “rough” it spoke volumes. Harn also advised to get all Tyler promises — aka change orders — in writing, also a good idea.


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