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June 21, 2013

Marion County IT system in bad shape

Knoxville — As reported, Marion County intends to hire a full-time Information Technology employee to oversee computer systems. The current state of the County's computer infrastructure is problematic. 

The technology audit which led to the Board of Supervisors' decision to seek an IT employee shows that the County has too many computer service contracts, issues with Internet speed, the lack of facility interconnectivity (computers at the courthouse do not share data with those at the law enforcement center for example), online security and server issues. 

Iowa Counties Information Technology reached these conclusions and labeled these issues and others as critically in need of improvement. The ICIT is a group of Iowa IT development professionals who reviewed the County's IT infrastructure earlier this year and recently released a report. 

Board Chairman Jim Kingery said the first thing the County intends to do to rectify these concerns is to get an IT employee in place. Much of the responsibility for addressing the other issues will befall this person. 

Kingery said that the board intends to utilize the services of ITIC to write the job application and description for the IT position and may assist in the interview process. 

"We'd be silly not to take advantage of their expertise," Kingery said. He hopes to have someone in place within a matter of months.

The County hopes to be more fiscally responsible by leaving the solutions to issues raised to the new IT professional. Kingery said he does not want to spend money on new technology if it is not the best solution for the County. 

He hopes to involve as many department heads in the search for the IT person as possible. He values their input.

"We've had great support so far," Kingery said. 

One issue identified in the ITIC report is "generic" expenditure descriptions they discovered when trying to calculate what the County spends on IT each year. Kingery said improved labeling and greater accountability when filing expenditures will be included in the County's IT improvements. To the best of the ICIT's calculations, the County spent $490,681.29 in FY 10-11, $429,361.14 in FY 11-12 and $324,658 in the current fiscal year, through the time of the ICIT visit. 

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