Vern Pierson Update – County Software Snafu

 Vern Pierson  Comments Off on Vern Pierson Update – County Software Snafu
Oct 082013

The out-of-control El Dorado County DA is in the middle of another debacle. It looks like El Dorado County Taxpayers got ripped off by their DA and a computer software snafu.

From In El Dorado County:

It is apparent that the CAO jumped the gun on this $5.6 million software acquisition instead of doing her homework first. Perhaps partial blame can be shared with a Chief Technology Officer who also moonlights as a D.A. – no conflict of interest there. It is also apparent from his comments that our DA/CTO is now applying legal intimidation.

Morris Blum | Oct 7 2013

At last Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting a long overdue update was given on the County’s struggling $5.6 million acquisition of an ERP computer system from Tyler Technologies which is supposed to handle finance, human resources and payroll.

Teri Daly, CAO described the recent computer work and according to Daly it’s 20% complete and the project is on budget and on schedule.  Her statement is quite debatable and 20% is a nice, shoot from the hip round number.  I’ve seen such numbers pulled out of much darker places.  The big problem is that the expensive software still doesn’t do at least three major critical functions and other State legal requirements that the County needs it to and is legally required to have.  There are no written guarantees by Tyler Technologies to perform such system modifications.

A couple months ago after the purchase it was disclosed by Joe Harn that this supposed high-end financial software could only handle 4 digit long account numbers and the County was attempting to scrunch down its account numbers to fit into the software.  My $49 Quicken program handles account numbers longer than that!

It is apparent that the CAO jumped the gun on this $5.6 million software acquisition instead of doing her homework first which is usually comprised of many much less expensive and warranted needs analysis studies which would have fleshed out the problems of Tyler before committing millions of dollars of Taxpayer money.  The recent ERP Charter Report is merely an ex post facto deliberation to make it look as if the County did its homework prior to the investment decision – it didn’t.  Daly admitted she doesn’t know much about this technological stuff, as she has a liberal arts type of college education.  Perhaps someone should teach her the basics, such as where the Kill Switch is or how to Pull the Plug!

Perhaps partial blame can be shared with a Chief Technology Officer who also moonlights as a D.A. – no conflict of interest there.  Systems analysis is normally done before making the software/hardware acquisition to make sure the system will accommodate the County’s needs.  It does not usually involve putting the cart before the horse and going into contract for multi-millions and hoping and praying the software will accommodate the County’s needs – that has been a recipe for disaster on too many government projects.  One major project failure that comes to mind was the State’s DMV RDBMS in the 90’s that couldn’t handle the transaction volume and ended up wasting $90 million in taxpayer money.

The current California $2 Billion Court System was another prime example that didn’t work and recently had to be scrapped after spending oodles of money.

Daly referred to the process as a “dance,” but one has to wonder if it won’t turn into a slam dance and chest bumping with the vendor over system requirements that weren’t properly delineated by the County before awarding the contract to Tyler.  The County is basically relying on a single source software vendor to do its systems analysis after going into contract and committing itself to millions – this is a dangerous and backwards way of doing it, because if Tyler’s software won’t meet the County’s needs requirements it’s back to square one with a hefty foregone cost and a lot of finger pointing.  Vern Pierson the County DA/Chief Technology Officer leaped from the crowd to take the podium and assure us that everything was on track.

Vern got his MIS (computer) degree back when they were still using mainframes situated above elevated air conditioned floors and software programs were written on punched cardboard cards. It is also apparent from his comments that our DA/CTO is now applying legal intimidation to the higher ups at Tyler to push for project success.  Nothing like a little legal intimidation to fix thousands of lines of computer code that don’t deliver what the County requires.

More big round numbers were provided by Daly as to her projected software efficiency gains.  Daly claims an efficiency gain of 10% or 27 County positions at $100,000 per employee per year. That’s $2.7 million, but she went on to pull a number out of thin air eluding to potential savings of $3 million to $10 million per year!  I thought to myself, yeah, I can count on those numbers when pigs fly!  Then the argument came that spending all this money and flying blind was arguably a better solution to averting a catastrophic failure rather than having done her homework in the first place.  Then came the County’s CYA “Project Charter” Executive Summary version of the County “Needs Analysis.”

While Daly and Pierson were eager to sign it, Joe Harn, the County Auditor refused to sign.  I can’t say I blame Joe, probably not a good idea to stick your neck out and have it taken off by this run away train wreck.  Harn went on to state that he has significant concern with the language in the Charter drafted by County Staff and Administration.  I trust Joe Harn’s candid comments and he has a very good past record with the County of fiscal prudence and good common sense – something that seems to be lacking with our CAO.  When Harn described the Tyler analysis process as “rough” it spoke volumes.  Harn also advised to get all Tyler Promises aka change orders in writing – also a good idea.

Morris Blum
Placerville, CA

Steve Poizner Endorses Igor Birman for CA-07

 Igor Birman  Comments Off on Steve Poizner Endorses Igor Birman for CA-07
Oct 022013

… and let the endorsement shelling begin. We won’t post them all, but just our favorites.

Top California Republican Endorses Igor Birman for Congress

Former California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, one of California’s leading Republican voices, joined the chorus of leaders endorsing Igor Birman for Congress.

“Igor Birman is a dynamic conservative leader whose background and experience make him the best candidate for Republicans to take back Congressional District 7,” Poizner said.  “I’m offering Igor my strong endorsement, and I encourage my fellow Republicans to support Igor’s campaign, so that we can win this seat in November 2014.”

“I am very pleased to have the support and endorsement of Commissioner Steve Poizner,” said Igor Birman.  “Steve is a successful businessman and dedicated public servant who understands the problems that families throughout California face.  I’m proud to have him on our team and to add his name to our growing list of supporters.  Birman has already received the endorsements of Representative Tom McClintock and FreedomWorks, a national grassroots group that champions individual liberty.
About Igor Birman

Igor Birman was born in the Soviet Union and learned at a young age what it means to live in a society that suppresses freedom.  That experience has driven him to be an ardent and dedicated advocate for preserving freedom as the cornerstone of American public policy.

Igor Birman came to the United States as a refugee in 1994 and grew up in California.  He refers to becoming a U.S. Citizen at the age of 19 as the proudest moment of his life.  He is a graduate of UC Davis with a BA in Political Science and holds a Doctor of Law degree from Emory University.  He is a member of the California Bar.

In 2009, he was asked by Congressman Tom McClintock to serve as his Chief of Staff.  In that role, Igor served as Congressman McClintock’s senior policy and strategy advisor, responsible for both Washington, DC and district offices, before recently taking a leave of absence to run for Congress.

In his spare time, Igor is an instrument-rated private pilot and avid skier.

About Steve Poizner

Steve Poizner is a former California Insurance Commissioner and a highly successful high tech entrepreneur with over two decades of starting and running industry-changing technology companies in Silicon Valley, such as SnapTrack, Inc., which pioneered technology that put GPS receivers into cell phones.

After finding much success in business, Poizner turned his focus to education and public service, co-founding EdVoice, an educational non-profit organization dedicated to improving public schools and serving the interests of K-12 children in California. He also served as a volunteer teacher in San Jose’s Mount Pleasant High School teaching 12th grade American Government. In 2003, Poizner co-founded the California Charter Schools Association.

Poizner served as a White House Fellow on the National Security Council. Starting one week before the September 11, 2001 attacks, Poizner held the position of Director of Critical Infrastructure Protection, and was involved in developing Homeland Security programs relating to cyber security and emergency response communication protocols.  In 2006, Poizner was elected statewide and served as California’s Insurance Commissioner through January, 2011.

Poizner is currently the CEO of Empowered Careers, which partnered with UCLA extension to offer professional certificates and career counseling for adults seeking to remain viable in today’s job market.