County will update computer software

County will update computer software

By Shellie Berg

By Shellie Berg

Staff Reporter

On Dec. 14, the Winnebago County Board passed a resolution for new computer software and equipment because its lease ran out that week.

The county wants new governmental software and new Internet software to display several departments’ records.

The Unisys mainframe system, which was installed in 1980, has been updated from time to time. But a recent study signified the county should use a different approach.

“In 1998 there was a community task force assembled by Chairman [Kris] Cohn and a number of people in the data-processing world,” said Rick Pollack, chairman of the Operations Committee, which conversed about the resolution prior to the board meeting.

The county hired Entre Computer Systems, BDO Seidman and Unisys Host Computer Systems. They indicated the county should analyze software packages developed for governmental entities with the “size and scope” of Winnebago County.

They also suggested that the county move away from the system written completely from “scratch.” The computer language is mapper language, Pollack noted, adding that the county hasn’t been able to purchase software from other companies because the language is its own. Therefore, the county wants to look at more standardized systems.

Pollack stated the county will be able to look at software on the free market and have competitive bids “for the best dollar for this county.”

At the Operations Committee meeting before the board meeting, a debate arose about whether the system should be upgraded over a three-year period or a five-year period. The five-year period would cost $150,000 more per year, according to Pollack.

Yet, staff in the data processing department weren’t sure they could install it and transfer files in that time. Pollack remarked that he couldn’t tell for certain which time period would be the safest. “I don’t have a crystal ball,” Pollack said. “I don’t know.”

But he advised fellow committee members it would be important to pass the resolution, whether it be for three years or five years. “Clearly, it’s better than not doing anything,” he said. “I think it’s prudent.”

Pollack said the county board chose the three-year period because members believe the county’s staff can complete the job in that time. “I have confidence that our staff can carry this out,” he stated.

Pollack said the county would like to take the saved money and apply it toward packaged systems.

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