Describing the county’s current situation as disaster recovery, Bartholomew County commissioners are rejecting a call to seek competitive bids to provide support for the county’s Information Technology department — at least for now.
“We still have a lot to do to stay alive,” commissioners’ chairman Rick Flohr said of the department, which lost all of its employees over a 14-month period. “We don’t want to change horses in midstream.”
County council member Laura DeDomenic last week called on the three commissioners to seek requests for proposals from multiple vendors to provide stop-gap IT services. Nevertheless, the council voted 6-1 to approve $50,000 for a 60-day contract with Sharp Business Systems to provide IT support.
Since it could take several months to restore the department, the commissioners say they believe Sharp can provide something no other vendor can — a former Bartholomew County IT specialist.
Sharp employee Danny G. Harman, who worked as a systems administrator for the county from January 2006 to February 2011, is now managing the computer systems, commissioners said.
Commissioner Larry Kleinhenz said he is hesitant to bring in another company with no previous understanding of the county’s complex software and hardware.
“It’s a very tough situation to walk into a very unique environment like ours,” Kleinhenz said.
At this time, Harman is working with contractors on two priorities:
Installing the Odyssey online case-management system for the courts.
Adding state-mandated security measures for computers at the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department.
“We’re not ignoring other individuals and vendors,” Flohr said. “But we’re not at a point where we can be looking for other people to jump in.”
As commissioners gave final ratification to the agreement Monday, Kleinhenz said the cost moving forward will be $21,184 per month.
“That amount is almost identical to what we were paying for our four-person staff in salaries and benefits,” Kleinhenz said. “So in essence, we now have 2½ people where we used to have four.”
Harman and those working under him are not only highly qualified to handle necessary technical issues, but have substantial resources through Sharp at their disposal, Kleinhenz said.
Major or permanent decisions regarding the future of the IT department will be put on hold until after a new department head is hired and is given time to make recommendations, commissioners emphasized last week. Several interviews with candidates have either been held or scheduled, county officials said.
Decisions that a director would assist with include determining the ratio of in-house and contracted work, as well as recommendations for regular staff compensation, the commissioners said.
While the county council agreed last spring to pay a new IT director up to $94,000 next year, a 44 percent increase from what was budgeted for this year, other IT workers were not given comparable raises, county auditor Barb Hackman said earlier this month.
The commissioners also are expected to meet with Data Strategies of Indianapolis later this week to discuss providing additional support not available through Sharp.