Thursday, December 09, 2010

Power to the Peoplesoft

There is both too little and too much to comment on...  so maybe we will just poke at the most wonkish of stories today which is the latest installment in the great saga to bring the city's financial system out of the 1980's.  See the Trib: Mayor urged to OK shared finance system. The story is about the planned (hoped?) for merger of city and county financial accounting systems that has been in the works for quite some time.  I'll summarize the latest news: hasn't happened yet. There, you don't need to read the news article.

Part of me says the story is about what it all says about the ICA.. What may be the biggest thing it is trying to push, and has been for years, yet alone provide funding for is still something it can't get the city to do.   Could change I figure. In the article though it's the last couple lines that really got me wondering. 
The system eventually could be shared with city schools, city and county agencies, and even the 130 municipal governments in the county, authority officials said.
The thing about that is... well..  some agencies are out spending real money for new accounting systems of their own.  Can't really imagine they would be doing that if they saw merger into another system anytime soon.  I do wonder though, in our cutting edge information technology city (hey, when is that Google fibre decision coming?!), why do we have a city that actually run more on COBOL? I bet they still use typewriters routinely somewhere in city government.  Not sure where they would be able to get typewriters fixed any more, but I bet they are still being used until they just fail completely.

Seriously, the story here is more about the ICA more than information technology or the mechanics of accounting. Maybe I am just impressionable because I was reading the filings online in the firefighters litigation over the pension 'stuff' discussed yestereday.  Some of the contract between the firefighters and the city are included in that complaint.  I think I knew this,  but had forgot that one of the items literally written into one of the recent firefighters contract was that he city would ignore all of the ERASE studies. (see page 24 of the pdf page number in the previous link, item number 13).  What are the ERASE studies?  Those were the studies of the fire bureau that constituted what may have been the primary obsession of the ICA in its first years of existance and certainly were some of its biggest expenditures. Lots and lots of money spent on those studies; they were possibly among the most expensive local studies ever done on anything. Yet not only were they not implemented, they were literally erased in their entirety. The contract verbiage you can read there says in a very minimalist way just: "remove ERASE study".  You just know they wanted to write "erase ERASE study" which is effectively what was done.  Again, what has the ICA been doing all these years that only now are we only now having this whole big pension cataclysm?

Yeah, yeah...  who cares?   Let's go debate parking chairs or something.  It is almost that time again.


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