News Column

Orr calls for spending more than $100 million on information technology

February 21, 2014

By Matt Helms, Detroit Free Press



Feb. 21--INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

The plan of adjustment emergency manager Kevyn Orr filed today in bankruptcy court amounts to a proposed blueprint for remaking the city and its service delivery as the city emerges from Chapter 9 protection, included in that is a heavy emphasis on upgrading and improving the city's information technology system. Here's what Orr is proposing for the city's Information Technology Services Department.

-- Live blog: Detroit reveals 'plan of adjustment'

-- Free Press investigation: How Detroit went broke: The answers may surprise you

Where it stands now: Detroit's computer systems and information technology are woefully antiquated. Some city tax records are still kept on 3 by 5-inch index cards. Many of its computer systems are so obsolete that manufacturers long ago stopped supporting them with software upgrades, leaving city workers to patch them with custom fixes.

Most serious issues: The impact is deep across city services, but nowhere more so than with tax assessments and collections. Difficult-to-verify city records have made it unclear, for example, which corporate taxpayers are up-to-date on payments, a critical issue for a city bleeding cash. Outdated systems also cost Detroit far more money than it should to tally work hours and issue employee paychecks.

What Orr proposes: Under the plan of adjustment, Orr proposes spending $148 million on technology improvements in the coming years. Mayor Mike Duggan earlier this month hired a new chief information officer, nationally recognized IT expert Beth Niblock, from Louisville, Ky., to oversee a transformation of Detroit's technology systems.

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Source: Detroit Free Press (MI)


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