By Luke Thomas
August 2, 2012
Citing wasteful spending and duplicative efforts, a San Francisco Civil Grand Jury today released a critical report of the City’s technology infrastructure.
The report follows a Fog City Journal investigation in April that unearthed myriad problems with the City’s aging and decentralized technology systems.
“San Francisco government, claiming to be a national leader in technology, continues to be mired in an ineffective and poorly organized technology governance structure that has led to wasteful spending and duplicative efforts, despite more than a decade of reports urging its change,” wrote Patricia Kilkenny, Deputy Jury Commissioner for the Superior Court of California. “The Civil Grand Jury believes that, for any real progress to be made, the Mayor must provide the same leadership in meeting the internal technological needs of City government that he has shown in establishing San Francisco as an ‘innovative capital.’”
The press release continues:
The Jury found a decentralized department culture that reinforces technological ineffectiveness, such as:
• The continued existence of seven email systems, nine data centers, and multiple wide area networks, with City departments resistant to consolidation and change.
• The stalled completion of various inter-departmental projects, one of which is now 15 years old and way over budget.
• The absence of a citywide technology budget and staffing plans.
• Hurdles to the hiring of highly qualified candidates in a competitive technology marketplace.
• Blatant non-compliance with the Administrative Code and City policies.
The Jury recommends the introduction of a functional working relationship between the City Chief Information Officer and departmental technology units. This will allow for the development of a citywide strategy for technology that can take advantage of economies of scale while, at the same time, providing for unique departmental requirements.
Overcoming the basic problems within citywide technology can only be brought about by the passionate leadership of the Mayor. Only he can bring about the culture shock that is needed to transform City technology to the level he talks about. If he has the will, there’s a way.
Responding to the report, Mayor Ed Lee spokesperson Christine Falvey wrote via email: “The mayor thanks the Civil Grand Jury for producing their report on the City’s technology and we will be reviewing their recommendations with an eye toward implementing the best ideas. While we can always improve, there have been significant steps already taken to better organize and streamline technology systems and governance. In the past year, we have lowered IT costs, established a Five-Year Technology Plan and passed legislation to strengthen IT governance for the City. We look forward to reviewing these recommendations and continuing our discussions with our City departments to keep ensuring that San Francisco is taking the most effective and innovative approaches to serving our residents.”