Wednesday, November 10, 2010

IT Consolidation- Part I

The Longmeadow Select Board started its discussion of the consolidation of the Information Technology (IT) organizations of town government and schools at the SB's August 23 goal setting session at the First Church (see my earlier post).  From the outset it appeared that the goal was to re-organize IT services with the School Department assuming complete responsibility for town wide support including people and resources.

A recent survey showed the following town wide IT support areas...
  • serving 50 different departments, boards and committees
  • housed in 13 different buildings
  • with over 700 employees and 3100 students
  • deployment of over 2000 computers, laptops, projectors, printers, etc. that are connected to over 150 servers and network devices
  • using over 100 different applications
The School Dept IT needs are in many cases very different from town government needs with financial and other business related software being extremely important to the successful town government operations. Current town related IT headcount is 1 while the School Dept has ~ 5.7 employees (only 1 FT- 12 months/year employee).  Storrs Library depends upon the town to provide computer IT support and from my involvement this support has been almost non-existent for many years.

One stumbling block to the proposed IT consolidation...
Our 6½ year old Town Charter (Section 6-2) states that the Dept of Finance and Administration is responsible for the town government IT and led by the Finance Director (currently Paul Pasterczyk).

Section 6-2 Department of Finance and Administration
(a) Establishment and Scope - there shall be a department of finance and administration responsible for the fiscal affairs of the town and for the coordination and overall supervision of all business, fiscal, and financial activities of all town agencies, including the school department. The department of finance and administration shall include the functions of accounting, tax and fee collections, treasury management, assessing, purchasing, contracting, information technology, town clerk’s functions, personnel functions and those functions further assigned by the town manager.
(b) The department shall be subject to the direction of a finance director who shall be appointed by, and directly responsible to, the town manager. The finance director shall serve at the pleasure of the town manager and shall be especially fitted by education, training and experience for the duties of the office. The finance director may also serve simultaneously as town accountant; or collector; or treasurer, but may not serve as town accountant and collector simultaneously.

This Charter "stumbling block" apparently has now been resolved by the use of an "administrative code" (as defined in Section 6-1) and outlined in a letter issued by TM Robin Crosbie...
"The Longmeadow Select Board will conduct a hearing on Monday November 15 at 8:00 pm on a proposed re-organization under Section 6-1 of the Charter. The proposed administrative code, submitted by the Town Manager to the Select Board, would consolidate town Information Technology (IT) with school IT, and place IT operations and budget under the school department. Staff and officials representing the town and school have been working since late summer and placed a proposal before the Select Board on November 1. The proposal anticipates that a consolidation will be more effective and efficient in coordinating IT purchases and implementation of new technology. The plan also proposes the formation of a Technology Advisory Board to assist personnel and policy makers in developing a strategic plan and advise them on future needs. The School Committee will be discussing this proposal at its November 8 meeting."

Below are video clips (courtesy of LCTV) from the November 1 SB meeting where the latest IT consolidation discussions took place.

Below is a video clip from the School Committee meeting on November 8 during which IT consolidation was discussed.

Given the role of technology in the operation of both schools and town government, I agree that the Town of Longmeadow has not properly funded nor organized its IT effort.  This is particularly true with regard to town government IT services.

In my next post I will propose an alternative organizational proposal for consideration by the SB.

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