NC Media Watch

A quest for reason and accuracy in letters to the editor, guest editorials and other issues of interest to the citizens of Western Nevada County.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Jad Funk expressed his concern,The first one's free, in letters to the editor, November 30, 2004

Lets start up front. Mr. Funk is a disgruntled former Information Systems intern, who after a six month probationary period was not hired. He has limited experience in managing large information systems. On the other hand, I have worked with government information systems from 1975 to the present, including award wining design of an Air Force software development and validation tool, and most recently was project manager for the ERC’s Business ReLocator.
Nevada County's Information Systems Department recently received almost $160,000 worth of free software, equipment and services from various vendors. Did CIO Steve Monaghan appear on "Let's Make a Deal," or was there another reason behind these consolation gifts?
It was another reason. They want to share in the recognition that Nevada County is generating under Monaghan's leadership. Nevada County Information Systems has won over seven e-Government awards, including, the National Academy of Public Administration’s Silver Seal of Distinction for Excellence in eGoverance in 2002, and Second Place in the 2004 Digital Counties Survey, sponsored by the Center for Digital Government and the National Association of Counties (NACo).

Steve Monaghan CIO was awarded a Visionary Award for Information Technology Leadership from the California County Information Services Directors Association in 2003, and The Center For Digital Government and Government Technology Magazine 2004 Top 25 "Doers, Dreamers, & Drivers of Information Technology in Government".
These companies have probably been noticing how Nevada County has been grabbing these free samples, like Marlon Brando wielding his own spoon at a 31 Flavors. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see the ulterior motives. Once a dependency is built on their product, they can charge anything they want for upgrades and consultants, all while getting free beta testing
Well, yes but a lot of the listed $160,000.00 above was in free upgrades to software and hardware that won awards, so that vendors could use Nevada County as an award winning example of how their products are succesfully used. Vendors are basking in the free publicity generated by Nevada County’s success. Other vendors gave Nevada County software in the hope Steve and his staff will win more awards, and some free publicity of the best kind -- Success!
Prior projects which were "initially" free, like the VoIP phones, ended up costing thousands more in upgrades and labor to make them work, and they're rumored to still be very problematic.
The County paid full price for the first VoIP phone systems, including consulting. It was the free upgrades that solved the initial problems. Just the reverse of Mr. Funk’s argument.
Unfortunately, Monaghan doesn't see this way and continues to throw money at these hopeless projects, despite repeated warnings from other counties who have also been recipients of similar products.
OK, but the other Counties are using a different vendor, not 3Com. This is not an apples to apples comparison. The VoIP phones at the County seem to working OK, except when too many people call for flue shorts all at once.

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