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County postpones computer-system merger


The county has postponed, but not given up, plans to merge its computer system with those of the school system and Anne Arundel Community College.

Following a free four-week IBM study into the merits of combining the computer system, the county has cited a $850,000 price tag, and no immediate cost savings for the fiscal year beginning July 11, as its reasons for postponing the proposed merger.

"The county, the Board of Education and the community college have agreed to study IBM's recommendations," said county central services director Jerry Klasmeier. "We have not abandonned the notion [of merging]."

IBM concluded in its study that the county could save $6.6 million over five years by merging the computer systems. However, Klasmeier said IBM also said it would cost the county to merge the computer systems.

The study also concluded that 23 of the 118 data processing positions in the three organizations could be eliminated through the merger.

The proposed merger of the computer systems has been a source of controversy between the county and the school board. Board members have argued that the school system needs its own computer system to operate efficiently.

The county, however, has argued all three systems could merge and work effectively.

County officials were angered last month when the board voted to move ahead with purchase of a $2 million mainframe system. The county wanted the board to wait until the feasibility study was completed.

However, board members said the school system could not afford to wait any longer because of the strain placed on its existing computer system.

County Executive Robert R. Neall did not include money for the school system's new computer or its expanded network in his proposed 1993 budget. County officials have said it is unclear how the school system plans to pay for the mainframe.

School officials, however, have said money for the mainframe is already in its budget.

Despite the earlier disagreements, the county and the school board appear to be working more closely in considering some possible future merger of the computer systems. Klasmeier said it is possible the equipment purchased by the school system could be used in combining the systems.

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