Harford estimates boards another $1M in IT contracts

The members of the Harford County Board of Estimates approved more than $1 million in technology-related contracts Thursday, as county officials work to upgrade their systems for managing employee pay and hours and for tracking contracts.

Board members voted 6-0 in favor of a $173,114.31 contract with SumTotal Systems LLC of San Francisco for the fifth year of a five-year contract with the company to provide support and maintenance of the county's human resources and payroll software.

Member Jay Van Deusen, the County Council's citizen appointee to the board, was absent for the vote as he arrived late to the meeting in Bel Air.

All seven members – Director of Administration Mary Chance sat in for board Chairman David Craig, the county executive – voted in favor of a $477,125 contract with Kronos Inc. of Chelmsford, Mass., to manage the county's employee time and attendance management system.

Ted Pibil, director of the Office of Information and Communications Technology, told board members a contract had been awarded to TimeLink of Purchase, N.Y. to manage the system, but TimeLink has since been acquired by Kronos.

The board members approved changing the name of the vendor on the contract, which came before the Board of Estimates in September of 2012, from TimeLink to Kronos; the price of the contract remained the same.

The second of the three technology items on Thursday's agenda prompted some dissent among board members.

Members voted 6-1 to approve a $411,566 contract with LCG Technologies of Baltimore to develop Internet-based software for the county's Department of Procurement to manage and track contracts.

Representatives of LGC had bid $582,820, and Pibil proposed breaking the project into two phases, with the second phase taking place during the 2015 fiscal year.

The contract approved Thursday would cover the first phase.

"Right now we have an antiquated system in procurement for keeping track of contracts," Pibil told the board.

He said the current databases used by department officials and staff, created more than a decade ago, are "very limited in what they can do," and staffers must still perform a number of functions manually.

The department would have an automated system to manage "the whole life cycle" of projects once it is complete, Pibil said after the meeting.

He told board members the existing tracking systems are "starting to fail," and are "crashing."

Pibil said Procurement Director Debbie Henderson, who is also a member of the estimates board, would be able to automatically obtain a report on the status of a contract, rather than track the information down manually.

He noted other county departments, including his own, could also tap into the system.

"Departments like mine will be able to have access to the system, where we don't have access to the contract database right now," he explained. "I'll be able to keep track of my contracts, expiration dates, how many years we have on them."

Warren Hamilton, the county executive's citizen appointee to the board, cast the dissenting vote.

Hamilton said he was concerned with the scoring system used to rate the bidders on the project and the gap between LCG's bid of $582,820 and the lowest bid of $180,000 offered by DataPoint Solutions.

"I think the formula falls apart when you only have two bids and when the second bid is so far removed from the first," Hamilton said.

Bids questioned

The third bid from Planet Technologies was marked as "unknown" on bid documents, since the company's proposal "stated that pricing for multiple items would be determined at a later date."

LGC rated a technical score of 86.5 since company representatives showed the greatest understanding of what the county needed, Pibil said.

Planet and DataPoint had respective technical scores of 71.5 and 72.25. DataPoint's low bid of $180,000 inflated its cost score to 20, compared to LGC's cost score of six.

Pibil said DataPoint's presentation did not show an understanding of the scope of the project.

"There is no way to possibly say we know 582[000] is the correct amount," Hamilton said of the cost of the project.

Pibil said he had had a "certain expectation" of the cost, and told board members he had budgeted $375,000 for the project.

He noted the cost of an unrelated technology project would be covered by the state, which freed up enough money in his budget to cover the full cost of the first phase, which will involve developing the software to manage contracts.

The second phase, which is projected to cost $162,691, involves developing a system to manage properties owned or leased by the county.

Other projects approved

Board members also unanimously approved a $361,558.78 purchase of 82 wireless radios by the Department of Emergency Services from Motorola Solutions of Schaumburg, Ill.

Also approved was a combined contract worth $500,000 with Comer Construction Inc. of Forest Hill and the Frank J. Goettner Construction Co. Inc. of Kingsville to provide on-call construction of "miscellaneous water and sewer projects," according to bid documents.

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