Enterprise systems simplify city’s IT infrastructure
Las Vegas, Nev., has installed enterprise computer systems to improve communication between departments and to improve service delivery to residents. By implementing the systems, the city has redeveloped some business processes and reorganized departmental responsibilities.
In 1985, Las Vegas was home to 197,000 people; by 2000, the population topped 498,000, and the city still is welcoming 3,000 to 5,000 new residents every month. (The city’s constant flow of construction jobs and other economic opportunities is triggering the growth.) To deal with that growth, Joseph Marcella, director of the city’s Department of Information Technology, and Patricia Dues, project officer for the City Manager’s Office, teamed up to create an integrated computer environment that could support an enterprise financial system as well as an asset and land management system.
When he was hired, Marcella was faced with “14 different departments with 14 different IT systems” that had no relationship to each other. For example, the city did not have an enterprise-level financial database, so operations and relative revenue gain was not easily tracked; the city’s Web site did not allow residents to track a permit or pay a parking ticket electronically; Geographic Information Services were not online; and the city did not have an interactive voice response system.
Marcella and Dues envisioned something far better. “We were naive enough to believe that what we used to do in the private sector could be effective in government,” Marcella says. “We didn’t know we weren’t supposed to be able to do it, but Las Vegas is the right size and has an intelligent council that sees IT as an enabler, not a utility.”
Marcella and Dues decided to replace the city’s multitude of transaction processing systems with fewer, larger systems that could be used by all departments. They implemented a financial system from Redwood Shores, Calif.-based Oracle in July 1997, and the city purchased an asset and land management system from Sacramento, Calif.-based Hansen Information Technologies in 1999. The asset and land management system works with the financial system to track and process sewer bills; permits, inspections and zoning changes for the building, fire and planning departments; business licenses; and work orders for parks and facilities maintenance, street assets and sewer assets. Together, the computer systems can track residents’ requests for serv-ices from initial contact to problem resolution.
To properly manage the large computer systems, the city reorganized its IT responsibilities. All IT projects were put under the jurisdiction of the City Manager’s Office, where Dues exercises oversight.
Prior to implementing the new systems, city departments spent $2 million to $3 million annually on IT projects. Departments still manage their own funding, but IT projects now must conform to citywide technology guidelines.
Setting up the asset and land management system and familiarizing departments with new methods of operation has taken time. In October 2000, parks maintenance and facilities management were the first of the new system’s components to be activated. Streets, sanitation, and traffic followed in 2001, as did the customer service module.
The city has begun using the integrated computer systems to handle 1,100 work orders and 250 customer service requests each month. Marcella expects that number to increase by May 2003, when the city completes improvements to its Web site and interactive response systems. “We are building the city’s infrastructure so we can deliver services through multiple alternative channels such as one-stop shopping and Internet voice response,” Marcella says.