One more computer headache (computer problem - Family Court Services) : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread


Editorial: One more computer headache

Oct. 18, 1999

It isn't just the state Department of Motor Vehicles that is experiencing a nightmare with a new computer system developed by the national company Deloitte and Touche. A system costing at least $20 million that was designed for Clark County Family Court Services by Deloitte and Touche also is being severely hampered by glitches.

County officials contend that the computer system installed in 1998 is working well, but a number of sources told the Sun's Ed Koch in a Friday story that isn't the case at all. In fact, they assert that the computer crashes frequently, causing delays; some records from the old system aren't getting transferred to the new system; because workers are spending so much time addressing bugs, there is a backlog of at least six months on the microfilming of delinquency and abuse and neglect cases; and other agency workers have changed data that juvenile clerks have recorded.

Unlike the problems that were discovered within days after DMV unveiled its system, the snags affecting Family Court haven't gotten much attention until now. Yet the Family Court Services afflictions can be even more tragic than those riddling DMV because Family Court Services is monitoring delinquent and abused and neglected children. Even though officials don't believe there is a problem, it's time for them to sit up and take notice.

Government agencies increasingly are contracting with private vendors to perform work, including implementing new computer systems. The question is whether this is just the tip of the iceberg. Some state legislators with computer backgrounds do have ideas regarding long-term solutions to the state's needs.

Assemblyman Bob Beers, R-Las Vegas, the president of a computer consulting firm, believes this state would do better if it simply bought proven computer systems implemented by other states, instead of trying to invent the wheel by creating its own version. Sen. Bill O'Donnell, R-Las Vegas, believes government agencies could develop these computer programs in-house, paying state employees salaries that are competitive with the private sector. Not only would state employees have "ownership" in the new system, there also is greater accountability instead of hiring an outside consultant, according to O'Donnell. Both Beers' and O'Donnell's ideas have merit and the next Legislature should pursue these options rather than following the existing course of hiring outside firms to create tailor-made programs for government agencies, a path that too often lately has been littered with failures.

-- Homer Beanfang (, October 19, 1999

Moderation questions? read the FAQ