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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tweet tweet

The temperatures are warming, and the birds are coming back already. Why, just yesterday a little one was at my garden gate singing this song:

I heard an interesting thing recently. The City's SAP implementation -- that's their new enterprise-wide financial system to help them be more like a single organization rather than silos -- has been put on hold. The rumor as to why is that it's $40M over budget. If that were true, I wonder if it's related to Sten's stepping down? I don't know if he is in charge of that one, but perhaps you do?
Sounds like something in the mayor's portfolio, actually. I do know that the city's chief bureaucrat was saying earlier this winter that everything with SAP (I believe that's the name of a software mega-contractor) and "the Enterprise Business Solution project" was going along swimmingly.

That little bird was just spreading a vicious rumor, I'm sure, with no basis in fact. Because hey, the City of Portland and computers -- what could possibly go wrong?

Comments (12)

Former employees of Freightliner said their SAP conversion was a nightmare.

Two years later, a $7 million embezzlement went undetected for over a year. A honcho said it never would have happened under the "old" system: manual "book entries" used to require the alleged "accounting clerk" to explain the error to a controller.

Not so with SAP: in a fit of German ingenuity, those recons are all processed electronically, so there was no more face to face 'splaining to do.

Is it easier to lie electronically than face to face? You bet.


Page 5 (budget line 381) indicates they had spent 76% of their allocated budget for "OMF citywide" at the 31% YTD mark.

There is a mention on page 2 in the pink box (Ariston, founded in 1999, is their vendor on the SAP install). Nothing to see here, folks. If it's not in the Boregonian, it didn't happen.

If it's good enough for Bernalillo County, New Mexico it's good enough for me. Not to mention the Inland Empire Utilities Agency. Because the City of Portland isn't going to want anything customized, right?

The scheme of budgets. I worked on two different city budgets and here is a scheme that ranks right up there with great embezzlements, they all do it.
Budget adopts money for a great cause and everyone is for it. All fiscal year money sits there, at end of budget year it is swept into general fund and spent on any project the city council finds appropriate. Neat little trick and was planned at beginning of the new fiscal year.
So citizens are happy and never know that they were Bamboozled. Now they do it with Economic Development money and Urban Renewal, same routine...smoke and mirrors.
And than we have make-believe audits...anothe pacifier for the public.
Honesty in government? We don't need no stinkin' honesty in government.

The City's SAP implementation -- that's their new enterprise-wide financial system to help them be more like a single organization rather than silos -- has been put on hold. The rumor as to why is that it's $40M over budget.

The company I work for changed over to SAP a couple years ago. Didnt seem too painful. Software is kinda crap though.

But the COP being $40 million over budget? Thats nuts! A regular business would never let it get that far. Didnt they have a contract? What happens is the contractors know they are working for a public body, and an unlimited cash flow.
And the people running this city just cant say "no".

From yesterday's TribTown in The Portland Tribune in an article about not fixing pothole-ridden NW 23rd Avenue titled "Response mixed to nixed fix" (on page A2):

"Also, the 23rd Avenue reconstruction project was eligible for $1.6 million in federal transportation funds, according to Jean Senechal Biggs, the transportation office's project manager."

"Biggs said that the decision to cancel the project meant the funds would be returned to the office of transportation's capital improvement program and eventually would be allocated to other city transportation projects."

Like the Streetcar? As I recall, someone in the last year or so reported that funds earmarked to fix Portland streets were being used for the Streetcar. Is this how it's done, by cancelling projects and dumping the funds in the capital improvement account? Are there other ways that federal money for street repairs is being diverted to the Streetcar? Has anyone seen a report about these shifting funds in connection with Adams' proposed local street fees?

Sorry, I didn't finish my post:

Would SAP make it easier to document the fund-shifting maneuvers?

SAP is an appropriate acronym not just for this program but for all the rip-off projects sold to the city. SAP: Stupid as ??? Don't our elected officials consult with tech people before agreeing to buy new technology or software? Or are they consulting with the wrong people? Or are the opinions of personable salespeople given more weight than those of the techies?

If this is a fiasco that rises to a $40 million overrun the whole city council must go.
Their reckless disregard for their fiduciary responsibilities rises to the level of official malfeasance.
Each and every one of them.

$40 mil - isn't that about what Sam's tax would yield?


No tax for Sam's Bikes, Bubbles and Buses.


My guess is they are using Deloitte and Touche for their consultants...

They are the kings of running over budget.

Just ask the Regence Group.....

Don't the big boys (IBM, HP, CSC) consult on SAP installations?

Why would they choose a smallish San Diego consultancy when undertaking a monster software integration project.

I would assume a smaller company is a less desirable target when the likely (nay inevitable) Portland-didn't-get-what-it-paid-for lawsuit chatter begins.

Cheaper isn't always better, especially when you have to live with the results for a decade (or more). Or just chuck it and start fresh (right Opie?).

Ten million saved isn't ten million earned if the finished product doesn't result in increased productivity and transparency.

Don't forget Metro Wifi.

After having written "Dripping Dollars", a short history of the water billing fiasco back in 2003, this post immediately grabbed my attention. I got in touch with some of my city contacts to see what was going on. It doesn't sound like there's any big story here; certainly not 40 million, probably not $40,000.

The imlementation of some of the system modules is behind schedule, mostly due to additional testing and training. Being in that business I have to say that is not unusual. There have been no overcharges to any of the bureaus.

This software project will actually solve one of the city's problems that I have been grousing about for a long time which is the bueaus having independent software systems which are not integrated. It will get rid of duplicate data, duplicate data entry and a lot of inefficiencies.

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