Resize, eliminate redundancy and streamline where it makes sense. These were the marching orders for the County’s Chief Information Officer when the economic downturn began to pummel the County’s budget a few years ago.
“It was essential for our overall fiscal health and performance to carefully look at the County’s IT function and identify areas for restructuring,” said Brad Hudson, County Executive. “The changes we’ve made will save more than three and half million dollars annually and we expect more savings and benefits as the consolidation progresses.”
Since then, significant IT organizational changes have been implemented. Two major IT departments were consolidated in 2011 – the Office of Communications and Information Technology and the Municipal Services’ Management and Information Systems – to create the Department of Technology (DTech). This move eliminated redundant services and provided a deeper pool of trained staff to better support IT functions throughout the County.
In September 2012, seventeen IT positions were consolidated into DTech from departments including General Services, Revenue Recovery, Personnel Services, County-Clerk Recorder and the Coroner.
“These merger and consolidations have been very successful, both in continuing to provide high quality IT services and reducing IT management staff and support costs,” said Rami Zakaria, Chief Information Officer.
Further consolidations began in June 2013, including moving IT positions from the Departments of Human Assistance, Health and Human Services, Child Support Services, Public Defender, Environmental Management, Voter Registration and Elections, Agricultural Commission and Airports into DTech. Moving these 168 positions is expected to produce significant savings in the Fiscal Year 2014-15 budget.
“In addition to saving taxpayer dollars, bringing the IT together will increase efficiencies in operations,” said David Villanueva, Chief Deputy County Executive. “It has already helped in adopting information technology standards that apply to the entire county and improve security practices.”
In 2012, the County adopted a new governance plan that focuses on creating efficiencies throughout the County by investing in smart technology solutions. Several new projects have been completed including a new web portal that allows employees and supervisors to enter their time and approve time cards and update their payroll records, upgrading the County phone system to Vo-IP, implementing a power management system that reduces personal computer’s power consumption and coming soon is a 311 system that will allow residents to easily contact the County for services and information by web, mobile device or phone.
A new emphasis has been placed on solutions that benefit the entire county as well as department specific business applications. These changes are already improving operations throughout the County and will help us continue to provide quality service in the future, Zakaria said. As we lose our knowledge-base with retirements, centralizing and cross-training staff will insure that our IT systems will be able to run smoothly despite loss of personnel. Centralizing staff also provides more opportunities for promotion which aids in retention and employee morale. The benefits are apparent on multiple levels and improvements and savings will grow as the consolidation progresses, Zakaria said.