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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 4, 2013 11:46 AM. The previous post in this blog was Ludlow wants to stop revolving door. The next post in this blog is Backroom deals in Portland more blatant than ever. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Another Sam Rand bungle: cop and firefighter technology

The O's ace reporter, Maximum Maxine, tells this one like it is:

Portland's public safety technology project -- which includes replacing the police and fire emergency dispatch system, upgrading aging police and fire radios and modernizing computer records -- is overbudget and late, a new city audit says.

The entire project has exceeded its budget by $9 million and the completion date is now three years later than scheduled.

Nothing says greatness like the Portland city government and computers. And gee, who was running police, fire, and the money all this time? The Sam Rand Twins, of course.

Jack Graham, chief administrative officer overseeing the project, said he agreed with the audit's recommendations, some of which have been adopted. Mayor Charlie Hales said he's discussed the audit's findings and recommendations with Graham and the current project manager, Jeff Baer. The audit's recommendations "will go a long way toward improving the effectiveness and success" of the project, Hales said.

Jack Graham was Randy's money guy in the fire bureau. Now he's the money guy for the whole city. And the new mayor thinks he's "improving the success" of the project? That's why they call him Char-Lie.

Comments (13)

Another fleecing. How can this be that difficult. It's not like Portland isn't late to the game. Dozens of other municipalities have already done these upgrades. The lessons have already been learned on this process. The cities project managers on this should be terminated or demoted. They are obvious not qualified to provide the managerial oversight needed.

I went on a ride along with COP officers to see their onboard system first hand a year and a half ago for one of my columns. It was very cumbersome for the officers to use with way too many keystrokes and reliance on touch screen technology that doesn't work too well in a cruiser that's bouncing around during a high speed pursuit.

I was also told that the software was basically selected by the dispatch people, for whom it works pretty well, but never really shown to any patrol officers for their input before they bought it.

Here's a link to the column:
http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2011/12/tales_from_a_ride-along_dispat.html

Maybe these yahoos should consult with the auditors BEFORE they begin a project. The folks doing the audits seem to have a lot more of either business acumen or just plain common sense when it comes to these large undertakings..

$9 million? I'm sure there's a few sidewalks out in East Portland that don't need to be built.

Forget the $9M ... the amazing number is three years behind schedule. This after being outed by Dave's column -- the kind of thing that usually prompts a flurry of slapdash work hustled through to complete the project.

Folks, this is like being in Hershey, Pa., the night Wilt went for 100.

Is this monstrosity something developed by Accenture? I ask because Accenture, previously named "Andersen Consulting" before it drove FoxPro out of business, had quite the track record for similar scams. Years late and millions of dollars over budget (in the case of FoxPro, billions), with lots of mission creep that allowed whole herds of brand new "And-Roids" to get valuable experience on the client's dime.

Actually, that's slightly unfair to make that comparison. This is Portlandia, after all. I just have a feeling that all productivity on city projects goes straight to hell every November, when every programmer involved in city projects has to get that NaNoWriMo novel done by the end of the month.

Texas,
No I don't think it was accenture. It was a canadian firm that has sold the same system to a lot of municipalities in Canada and elsewhere in the states. It's been successful in other jurisdictions but just wasn't a good fit for the way Portland and Multnomah county does business.

Gee, does anyone at COP know what a contract is?

If the company can't get it done at the cost they bid, they loose money.

How much moire is this costing than the high bid?

And, in the Silicon Forest, is there no one local who can write software for this?

T,
Good points, but here's what has happened on most of these projects.

COP signs a contract for what they say they need and the contractor gives them that. Then COP says oh, we forgot this and that and the other thing and the contractor gets to nail them for the change orders.

The problem is in project management and not doing proper needs analysis with the people that will actually have to use the system.

Most government project, big and small, go the way Dave just explained. Always have and probably always will.

Thank you, Dave. Your theory actually makes more sense for the Portlandia Way. I like to call it "Riddell's Law": "Any sufficiently developed incompetence is indistinguishable from conspiracy."

Not to beat a dead horse, but our goofy commission government plays a role in all these technology snafus. Without an overall layer of management, such as in a city manager form, each bureau is free to go off and do their own thing with regard to technology projects. The city's IT manager, who is part of the office of management and finance, can make recommendations and try to help keep everything integrated, but those recommendations are not binding. Commissioners can go off and do their own thing with their bureaus without regard to the overall business of the city.

That's how you get things like this public safety system and Erik Sten's renowned water bureau billing system.

The good idea fairy flitting about after a contract is signed... suggesting new and "improved" bits be added...


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