PRIVATIZATION/Outsourcing information management pays off for Indiana city and county
Outsourcing information management has enabled the city of Evansville and Vanderburgh County, Ind., to reduce costs in their jointly operated Computer Services Department by 23 percent.
The two governing bodies found themselves in a familiar predicament in the late 1980s as federal program cutbacks forced them to spend less money while providing increased services.
Hindering efforts to improve efficiency was an increasingly unreliable information management system plagued by excessive downtime, an outdated mainframe, limited application software, inaccurate and redundant data and incomplete or outdated reports.
The city and county targeted technology as an area ripe for improvement and hired Systems and Computer Technology Corp., Malvern, Pa., to build a completely new information system.
The first step toward revamping data processing involved acquisition of a new generation of computing hardware — a leading-edge multi-platform Digital Equipment Corp. configuration — and implementing integrated application packages that would lessen the redundancy of data, improve its accuracy and provide access to it between and within departments.
At the same time, “user liaison” consultants support operational departments and help improve procedures. These improvements have, in turn, enhanced the abilities of Evansville and Vanderburgh to serve their citizens.
Integrated applications were installed in three functional areas — finance, city and county courts and public safety — to consolidate data, eliminate redundancy and improve ad hoc reporting.
Digital VAX minicomputers and associated micro-VAX clusters (separate units linked together to share data and processing capabilities) were installed.
The company also directed the installation of cables linking various buildings and departments, including expanded wide area networking.
With the new hardware in place, response time was improved and downtime significantly decreased.
City police and the county sheriff’s department now share a public safety system and local database to better coordinate their activities.
Hardware contracts were also consolidated to help funnels dollars away from maintenance and toward equipment acquisitions.