News Column

Colorado Springs City Council OKs $1.1 million for troubled IT Department

July 8, 2014

By Monica Mendoza, The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)

July 08--The Colorado Springs City Council approved spending $1.1 million in hopes of fixing the city's troubled Information Technology Department.

It's only half of what Mayor Steve Bach requested, but the council said it does not trust that the IT department has the expertise to solve all its problems.

The council reluctantly moved the $1.1 million from other projects, including a software program to manage court cases.

Council member Jan Martin told the mayor's chief of staff, Steve Cox, that she didn't have confidence in the IT department.

The department in the last two years has started million-dollar projects and then stopped them without finishing, she said. It also launched an internal investigation in January with few details provided to the City Council. It then cut 10 people from the department, including its deputy chief information officer. In addition, its chief information officer and head of security both recently quit.

And now the city wants $2 million to fix infrastructure problems, Martin said.

"I'm concerned about the turmoil in the department," Martin said.

The city recently hired Hogan Lovells law firm to assess the city's network security. The firm recommended a redesign in the city's network and a new backup system.

"My concern is I don't have the confidence level that we have the staffing level to manage this," she said. "This is a big project."

This was the second time Bach made the financing request for the department. The council turned him down in June, saying they didn't have enough information about why they should take money from approved projects and move it into the IT department. Bach and Cox met with council members one-on-one to explain.

The city's network is vulnerable and at risk, Cox said. Nine months ago, the city started an IT project and found the problems in the system, he said. The $2 million was needed to pay for new software and hardware.

The request to put money into the city's IT department comes on the heels of Bach saying the city has more than $1 billion in capital needs and no money to pay for them. Bach asked the council to abandon capital improvement projects, including a road repaving project on Academy Boulevard and a software program to manage court cases,

Cox said the city would put the abandoned projects into the 2015 budget. Council member Andy Pico said he was unwilling to abandon the Academy Boulevard reconstruction project, which has a $900,000 budget. He said he would support transferring $1.1 million instead of the requested $2 million into the IT department. Then, he said, the chief of staff could come back with an update.

Council members Joel Miller and Jill Gaebler voted against the $1.1 million transfer.

Martin said she hoped the city would set up an outside committee of technology experts to examine the situation and make recommendations. The past three chief information officers have come in and recommended sweeping changes -- each of them with their own plan on how to fix the department, she said.

"It's quite remarkable that here we are three years later and we are having the same discussions," she said.


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Source: Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO)

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