Civil Grand Jury: “Culture Shock” Needed to Improve “Poorly Organized Technology Governance Structure”

Written by Luke Thomas. Posted in News, Politics, Technology

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Published on August 02, 2012 with 2 Comments

A critical Civil Grand Jury report released today finds the City and County of San Francisco’s technology systems are “mired in an ineffective and poorly organized technology governance structure that has led to wasteful spending and duplicative efforts.”

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.”

Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas is a former software developer and computer consultant who proudly hails from London, England. In 2001, Thomas took a yearlong sabbatical to travel and develop a photographic portfolio. Upon his return to the US, Thomas studied photojournalism to pursue a career in journalism. In 2004, Thomas worked for several neighborhood newspapers in San Francisco before accepting a partnership agreement with the, a news website formerly covering local, state and national politics. In September 2006, Thomas launched The BBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, New York Times, Der Spiegel, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Magazine, 7x7, San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Bay Guardian and the San Francisco Weekly, among other publications and news outlets, have published his work. Thomas is a member of the Freelance Unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild, TNG-CWA Local 39521 and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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Comments for Civil Grand Jury: “Culture Shock” Needed to Improve “Poorly Organized Technology Governance Structure” are now closed.

  1. Good report — thanks for giving it attention!

  2. Ed ran the ‘Computer Store’?

       Some name like that.   You got in (by paying Willie off in some way) and you got millions in contracts to grab a chunk of.   Lee actually had to give a deposition a few months back in a case defended pro-bono by Gonzalez and Leigh that is years old.    Seems old Ed destroyed a young couple’s lives when the crooked vendors he made them retain split town with the dough.   Of which, I’ve no doubt, Willie got his share.

    Politics has always been dominated by liars, thieves and murderers.

    For those of you hoping to make a difference politically around here for the next decade or so, I’d keep it on the hobby level.    Kinda like baseball when you’re backing a losing team.

    Which we don’t have here now.

    Giants in first place!

    Great shots by you and Michael.   I always forget how good Strickland’s (?) is and your work is always first rate.    I know, got the two stories mixed.

    Since the clock says it’s 4:23pm that means I’m 3 minutes late …