Thank God Nassau County is not running an airline!

In Columns by Hal PetersonLeave a Comment

More than a decade ago, Nassau County awarded a multimillion-dollar contract to a consultant hired to merge into a single system its failing, outdated computer networks that manage everything from employee paychecks to contractor payments.

The project’s expected completion date was in 2012. Now, after spending a total of $43.4 million in borrowed money for the project, the county still doesn’t have its new computer system in place. As a result, Nassau County is using a patchwork of computer systems — some that can’t be repaired, others from companies that no longer are in business. While managing a $3 billion annual spending budget including the payroll for 14,000 employees.

“If the system were to fail, it would severely hamper the ability for the county to operate, everything from the cradle to the grave. The fact that a new system isn’t up and running is “really a story of mismanagement right from the beginning,” according to County Executive Laura Curran.  

Looking back the project started in 2007 during the administration of former County Executive Thomas Suozzi, Nassau has paid more than $20.9 million in consulting costs for the project and another $22.5 million for costs including hardware, software licenses and outside contractors who worked on the project.

$20.9 million in the mentioned consulting costs went to an upstate company managed by former Republican State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno. weeks after he was forced to step down while under investigation for fraud.

But former Nassau Comptroller George Maragos, who served from 2009 to 2017, said, “the money is wasted and they’re no closer [to] where they were maybe eight years ago in terms of completing it.”

Maragos argued that, “at some point, you have to say, enough is enough. Enough money has been spent, enough false promises have been made, and it’s time to cut the losses.”

Suozzi administration officials laid the original plans to acquire new software called PeopleSoft to power a single Enterprise Resource Planning network that all county employees would be able to use.

PeopleSoft, an e-business software program used widely in the private sector, would create one location where county employees could access their pay stubs, vacation time and other personnel data without having to first reach a payroll or human resources employee. 

The county then planned to retire its network of outdated computer systems, which also manage retiree benefits, logging of employee hours and budget reports for department managers. 

Officials said the original plan was to include an overhaul of Nassau’s financial and human resources networks, but the plan was revised early on to deal solely with human resources.

The job of integrating the county’s computer systems was complicated from the outset, according to county records and interviews with past and current officials.

The challenge was to take data from four existing systems and merge them into a new one. The 1992 computer coding is from 1992 and no longer supported by IBM.

In July, Nassau County Comptroller Jack Schnirman issued a request for proposals for a consultant to again help replace the county’s outdated mainframe-based financial system. $9.6 million for the project has been allocated in county’s capital spending plan.

Justification, a/c Jack “Right now, we have a car with 200,000 miles on it, and we know it’s going to break down, and we’re willing to spend the money to make sure we’re prepared. $43.4 in borrowed money 12 years ago, plus $9.6 adds up to a hefty $53 million and counting.

PS: Jack Schnirman, recently agreed to return $52,000 in bogus overtime payments he collected while serving as Long Beach City Manager for twelve years. Can anyone be jailed for incompetence? Thank God the county is not running an airline.  

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