Antiquated Technology In The City..

Antiquated Technology in the city according to Kim Nelson, when asked by councilman Tom Berry if she thinks that our computer system is antiquated, she replied “yes”. Mr. Berry went on to ask her why then would you not put together a 5 year plan for our system in the city, and submit it to us? Council Woman Horvath pointed out that the council had never asked for a study, but Berry was quick to point out that being a self-employed small business owner, you would think that you would be proactive?, Take it upon yourself to submit a plan considering we have been discussing this for over a Year. (Good for you Tom) Liz, and Janet pointed out during this exchange that they have brought Kim before them on more than one occasion, and that this has been discussed many times.

Disturbing more than this is the fact that we have equipment breaking down, and hours and hours are spent repairing it, far exceeding the cost of replacing the broken equipment. When Janet Badalow pointed out that a hard drive (on the computer in the assessor office, was bad, and had been for over a year, why was it not replaced? The cost of a new hard drive is around $100.00. Kim answered with yes it may be only $100.00, but then you have from 4 to 6 hours of time spent downloading all the needed programs to it. So let’s start there because Liz points out that the assessor’s office has around $340.00 a week in calls to IT, and in a very short time that office had $6,000.00 worth of charges from the IT. So if you have 6 hours @ 170.00=$1,020.00+100.00 for the hard drive that brings us up to $1,120.00. compare that to 6,000.00 and in one week 19 hours of downtime, with 3 people in the office not being able to work. So what is better? Janet also pointed out that the administration has no policy in place to handle things like this, and why not? Yes,Mr. Mayor, why are you not watching our money better than this?  Tom said that he feels cheated, you not alone each, and every one of us should feel cheated.

Our comptroller was on hand to talk, for the life of me I would like to understand what the hell he has to do with IT, sitting there you would think he was the IT of the city, he stated that they knew her invoice was going to be pulled because of the new internet filtration that was put in the city. He said we all knew that was going to happen because all the city employees are calling all of you on the council, that is why you pulled her invoice, happens every time the Mayor said. All took issue, to that statement, if you recall her invoice was pulled because of the charges for the assessor’s department, they felt something was wrong, and they are right. Something stinks about this whole subject. Janet did ask our great comptroller, will paraphrase here she basically asked him what he has to do with this, that is a very good question wait let me see does it say any place on the web page for the comptroller that he is in charge of IT?

The Dearborn Heights Comptroller’s Office is the financial backbone of the city. In the comptroller’s office, we take care of the debits and credits of the city.

We are in charge of the following

Accounts receivable:
The treasurer’s office submits a daily cash report with a cash total for each fund. We keep track of why the money has come into the city and credit the appropriate accounts.

Accounts Payable:
The Comptroller’s office, through its purchasing division analyzes all invoices that come into the city and pay them from the appropriate accounts. All checks issued from the city of Dearborn Heights originate from the comptroller’s office. Each invoice is forwarded to the treasurer’s office for a final examination before it is released to the vendor.

Purchasing Division:
Every item that is ordered from the city of Dearborn Heights should have a purchase order related to it. When a department needs something to help run its department, they requisition the item on a special form. When we receive the requisition form, we make sure that it has the correct vendor for the purchase and that the item being purchased is within the limits of the budget. If everything is in order, then we issue a purchase order for the item.

The city currently has approximately 320 full time employees and about 100 part time employees. The comptroller’s office is in charge of running payroll on a bi-weekly basis. We keep track of all money earned by the employee, as well as, all taxes and all other deductions for the employee. We also keep track of all time off that a full time employee takes such as sick days, vacation time, personal days, and paid holidays.

In January of each year, the comptroller’s office along with the other department, starts its general fund budgeting process. This process will request from all departments the amount of money that is needed to fulfill that departments needs for the coming fiscal year. Each department will request time with the mayor and comptrollers to review their cases on why they need the money for the budget. When all departments are reviewed by the mayor and comptroller, budget cuts start. The city of Dearborn Heights has to have a balanced budget. We check our anticipated revenues for the next fiscal year and then compare that to all the departments needs for expenditures for the next fiscal year. In the beginning, we are always out of balance and have each department review their own department and have them cut out any un-necessary items. The comptroller then re-reviews all revenues and expenditures and checks if we are in balance at that time. If we are still out of balance, the mayor and the comptroller slash the budget to get it into balance. Per city charter, this balanced budget must be submitted to the city council by April 1st of every year. At this time the city council reviews the budget again with the departments and gives their approval of the needs for the next fiscal year. Per charter, the council must adopt the city’s general fund budget by the first Monday in June of Every Year.

The comptroller’s office is a very complex piece of the city. We are the only department that does not deal with the public. We are more than an inter-departmental department. Dealing with all of the other departments.

Donald S. Barrow

Source: City of Dearborn Heights Web Site.

Nope can’t see that it says anything about being in charge of the computer system in the city. They are so concerned about the invoice being pulled, but are not concerned about the fact that employees can download what ever programs they want to city computers. He’s not concerned that our city is not operating on a unified platform. A technology assessment plan needs to be done on the city, and then they are going to take this plan and open it up for companies to bid on, it’s about time never has this gone out for bid, we have no idea what is out there.

Since council agreed that they are going to ask Plante Moran to come, and do a study I thought maybe you would like to see a study they did for the City Of Ann Arbor MI in 2006 on this very subject.

Here’s a sample of what they have in the plane,

City IT Guiding Principles
In addition to the City’s IT Strategy and Objectives, City IT projects and processes will be guided by the following fundamental guiding principles.
1.    Technology-based solutions will be deployed that meet business needs, have a satisfactory return on investment and provide the best value to the City.
2.    An attitude of collaboration and cooperation will be fostered among all of the jurisdictions in local, City and State government when providing services to community stakeholders to maximize the use of taxpayer dollars and provide a “seamless” interaction in receiving governmental services.
3.    Business processes should be evaluated for redesign opportunities before they are automated. IT should be included as part of this redesign effort.
4.    Exploit functional commonality and sharing of data across organizational boundaries when implementing new technologies and business applications and when possible, capture data once in order to avoid cost, duplication of effort and potential for error.
5.    Implement contemporary, but proven, technologies.
6.    Hardware and software shall adhere to best business practices and, whenever possible, open (vendor- independent) standards while minimizing proprietary solutions.
7. Technology resources will be leveraged efficiently and effectively through the adoption of common standards and shared information. Data, voice, video, image and workflow shall be standardized and interoperable between City agencies. The IT infrastructure will define the interfaces between systems.
8. Consider the purchase and integration of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) software with minimal customization as the first choice to speed the delivery and quality of new business software applications.
9. Information technology projects and resource allocation will be managed using standard project management tools.
10. An on-going relationship will be maintained between IT and end-user departments such that both work to identify technologies that will provide improvement in City business processes and operations.

The earliest they can meet on this subject is March 16th, and our comptroller, who had to have his say to delay this until April again I ask what he has to do with it, I’m sure Plante Moran can study other departments while he is doing other things. They do know their jobs as you can see from the study they did for Ann Arbor. Very disappointing that after one year yet more delays, they should have made the call to them today, and have them come in next week to start the study.  The Mayor said that city employees where going on porno sites on city computers, ok what did you do about it, who are these employees, the way you said it Mr. Mayor you act like they are not working for you are you not the CEO of our city? If you know that for a fact why have you left them in the employment of the city? You did not say in the past you said there are employees going on porno sites, not the past. I would think that after making that statement that today you sent out pink slips, and if they are department heads that you appointed, I expect you to do no less to them.

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17 thoughts on “Antiquated Technology In The City..”

  1. That could very well be his concern, and a very good one at that, was talking with some friends the other day, and said the very same thing, about the contract that is. By the city not having a contract they have put themselves in a very vulnerable position. I do if I’m not mistaken this company has been with the city long before this mayor was put into office. So no this most certainly isn’t this administrations fault alone. Not paying a vendor is legitimate if they have a question about the charges, to pay them just because you are afraid they might walk out on you is the same as extortion. I most certainly am not talking about blasting what ever arrangement exists, am for getting a professional plan, and putting that plan out for bid, and then hiring whom ever wins that bid based on the plan, and signing a contract. The only thing that they have started is getting a plan, they are not going to be making a new department, they are going to out source this like they do now only this time with a contract.


  2. Well, if this person IS the city’s only IT person at present, is there a legitimate concern she could walk and leave the city in a predicament? When you don’t pay a vendor, they could turn around and simply stop working. Especially if no contract exists. If some transition is necessary, it may be a better course to peacefully switch rather than just blast whatever arrangement exists at present. As far as I have watched this transition has actually already started.

    Couldn’t that be the comptroller’s concern?


  3. Hi In My Opinion,
    I will answer for myself here because I was at last Tuesdays study secession, and was at Tuesdays city council meeting. While the IT does need a contact in the administration, it is not his job to jump up to the defenses of the IT, and their bill. During the study secession, he said we knew the bill was going to get pulled because of the internet filtration that was installed on city computers. At another point in the meeting when Janet was talking about a policy being put in place, because the administration does not have one for the IT to follow, anyway a policy to deal with how much time should be spent on dealing with an old piece of equipment, compared to replacing it. Don answered with a I agree with you that’s a good idea, and from now on we will be doing that. The mayor of this city did not say a word about it, I was not the only one who noticed, because Janet Badalow asked him what his role was in all of this, or something along those lines, he’s answer was my punishment. I’m asking the same question besides signing the invoice, what is your role, I think it is more then having a contact in the administration. At the city council meeting on Tuesday night, he was looking for a fight, Who asked him to answer any question Tuesday night? (watch city council) no one, why wasn’t the IT there, the question was why they didn’t get an answer from the administration. It was a blatant slap in the councils face, basically telling them you don’t need an answer just approve the money, and move on. I want to know the reason for all of those charges, I don’t want the comptroller to stand up there, and tell council why didn’t you ask the question on Tuesday, it’s not for him to ask or say. Yes some of the issues were touched on at the study session, but an explanation as to the charges requested from council by the administration was not given. The reason I have a problem with the comptroller is I get the feeling when hes talking the last thing he is worried about is how he is spending my money, he is more worried about defending the IT, and making sure they get paid. This is what happens when you have no contract, when there is not one policy in place, when you have no contact person as you say, and when maybe after working for years with people, and becoming friends lines get blurred. Now before you jump all over my head for saying anything about being friends with someone, I have no problem with people getting friendly with one another, but when you work for the city, when you are in charge of all the money in the city, you should put the tax payer’s first. I think he would have been better served if he would have stayed out of it, if the mayor asked him to be the contact person, then the mayor most certainly should have said so when the question was asked he did not.


  4. I don’t know everyone who works for the city. Is there someone better suited than the comptroller? Vendors usually need some point of contact in an administration. Apparently you don’t know anyone better either.

    My point was not to debate whether a contract should be bid or not, it was to try and ascertain why the comptroller is getting grief for answering questions at council meetings. When questions are asked…should no one answer?


  5. There is no IT department in the city. Just a person who started their own company (pretty much with the city’s money) and charges $175.00 an hour for their services. Nobody is overseeing anything!


  6. We have someone that works on an hourly bases, as was pointed out last night no contract, never went out for bid, for years this way. So we do have an IT person that is in charge, the Comptroller does not need to stick his nose in to something that is not his business, he is part of the problem, he is approving all of these charges that’s my money, and yours. He’s job is to look into the charges to make sure they are true, and just. initiative is very good, and wish we would see more of it, from the administration, maybe if the IT had some policy to follow she would know what to do in certain circumstances. If the comptroller wants to show initiative let him show it in his own job, by looking into why a department has all most 6,000.00 in charges alone start there, find out what the problem is, and then take it to the mayor.

    As all ways it’s great to hear from you, and I value your in-site, always good to hear the other side of any issue, thank you.


  7. Who IS in charge of IT? Do we have an IT department? If the comptroller is “butting in” to someone’s business, who’s business is it? I have yet to read from anyone we even have an IT department. If we don’t maybe he was taking some initiative? Or should no one do anything?


  8. I think that our council, and Mayor could put some calls into other cities, and simply ask do you let employees go on the internet, who gets to go, and to what sites. Get a feel for what other cities are doing, then tweak it to fit our city, and its needs. Some standard rules that should have been in place from years ago are just not there, who’s at fault, no guidance is a major problem, not being proactive is the other.


  9. Cash Strapped, we are paying so much for so little right now, can we afford to keep paying for an inefficient system? So much money being wasted on repairs for things that should be replaced, by replacing them we would save money. The money we are forking out right now is going to repairing a failed system. In just one department for one week you had 19 hr of down time how many other departments, how much down time across the board?


  10. The corruption in this city will continue until the Mayor, Comptroller and City Attorney are sent packing. They have hidden more than you know and I am going to make sure they are held accountable for some of it!!!


  11. Who the hell is paying for all this? Can the city afford a technological overhaul while losing a ton of tax revenue?


  12. Mike I love the city of Dearborn Heights, and I see no reason why we can not be just as good with a little work, and for people like you me, and others to expect the best.


  13. Ann Arbor is a progressive city. You shouldn’t even put DH and Ann Arbor in the same story let alone the same sentence. Ann Arbor is Ann Arbor because everyone there cares about the city and is unselfish in promoting it to the upper echelon of communities-unfortunately I can’t say the same about DH.


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