Cleveland: Council members say city may have software problem: termed disaster by employees : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Council members say city may have software problem: termed disaster by employees

Wednesday, February 09, 2000 By ALISON GRANT


City Council members fear that Cleveland's financial software, which is similar to the problem-plagued product used at Cleveland State University, might also be trouble-prone.

Mayor Michael R. White's administration has said the city's PeopleSoft system has experienced only minor start-up glitches, and a company spokesman said the staff's unfamiliarity with it might explain why such glitches occur.

But council members said they were getting calls about unusual delays in processing checks to vendors and in disbursing money within city government. Finance Committee Chairman Bill W. Patmon said vendors had been reporting getting late payments for six months.

A PeopleSoft spokeswoman said last night she knew of no complaints from Cleveland.

"I do understand that they have had some staff changes in the city," said Laura King, director of marketing for education and government. "There could be some training issues. That could be contributing to them having a momentary bump in the road."

The White administration did not respond to inquiries yesterday.

But on Monday, Finance Director Ronald Brooks said he believed the majority of payments were getting out on time. He said the conversion to PeopleSoft, which took place in April, required a "transition period," just as any other system would.

"I'm not going to say we have not had our challenges," Brooks told the Finance Committee. "We're still working very diligently."

Councilman Michael O'Malley replied that contractors, community development corporations and narcotics police who need "buy" money had not received checks in a timely fashion.

A narcotics detective in the Vice and Strike Force Unit, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he knew of undercover officers in three of the city's six police districts who have had to use their own money to make small drug buys.

The detective said money for such buys ordinarily was available in the police district office, but not lately. "We're told the check is somewhere over in City Hall," he said.

CSU's PeopleSoft system has been bedeviled with problems since 1998, particularly in financial aid applications. As a result, CSU's costs for the system soared from a projected $4.2 million to more than $11 million.

City Council approved legislation in 1997 to spend an estimated $6 million on hardware, software and supplies and to employ outside consultants. The legislation led to the hiring of PeopleSoft as well as two other firms recently brought on board to review the software's operations.

The White administration in December spent $990,000 to hire PricewaterhouseCoopers to "provide risk assessment and quality assurance reviews" of the PeopleSoft, along with police and House of Corrections computer programs.

Also in December, the administration spent $75,000 to hire Carrera-MAXIMUS Inc. to help implement and manage the PeopleSoft accounts and billing system at the Department of Port Control. Two weeks later, the city increased the company's payment to a maximum of $256,200. A resolution cited the need for "updates and fixes" of PeopleSoft at the Public Utilities Department.

Last week, employees from the city's Accounting Division met in the mayor's Red Room to complain that they had not had enough instruction on PeopleSoft.

"It's a major problem," Council President Michael D. Polensek said. "I'm hearing from employees that it's a disaster."

E-mail: Phone: (216) 999-4758 )2000 THE PLAIN DEALER. Used with permission.


-- Carl Jenkins (, February 09, 2000


And as if Mike White wasn't having enough fits with Polensek already!

Right about now, I am wishing I could get ahold of a muni government client list for PeopleSoft. Comparing that with those cities local press might make for some darn interesting reading! Regarding Cleveland, my guess is that this is just the very wee tip of the iceberg.

Seriously, those of you with businesses whose receivables depend upon medium and larger cities may want to take heed.

-- Redeye in Ohio (, February 10, 2000.

A word of and "receiveables" are NTO one of those "immediate" events that were looked at on January 1.....they will take place only when bills can't be paid/were not paid/not received...then people complain....then still not paid...then the vender (weeks/months later) gets screwed in the pocketbook.

Recession isn't likely..but depending on how many businesses/people are getting hurt, the 1st quarter results might be a surprise to those who think it was bump-in-the-road long since past.

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Marietta, GA) (, February 10, 2000.

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