Marin County ERP system: $14
The latest chapter in Marin County's computer system woes unfolds next
week as officials consider a $14 million appropriation to acquire, install
and initially staff a new system, including $8.2 million for a vendor.
In line to handle the program under a $8,171,357 contract is
Technologies of Texas, the largest company in the nation focused solely on
public sector software and services.
County supervisors will consider a $14,057,370 allocation Tuesday morning
to cover Tyler's $8.2 million bill and a $5.9 million tab for county
staffing for 36 months and related expenses including a $1 million
contingency. Last June, cost estimates for the program ranged from $12
million to $16 million.
Mindful of the county's $30 million SAP computer troubles, a team of top
officials negotiated a detailed, carefully-worded software systems contract
as well as a related requirements document that runs more than 500 pages.
The program is aimed at replacing core financial, budgeting, human resources
and payroll components of the troubled SAP system that never worked as
expected and cost too much to maintain.
"The software and services contract with Tyler Technologies applies
multiple lessons learned from previous county experience and is designed to
provide detailed level project control and shared incentives for project
success," according to a memo signed by County Administrator Matthew Hymel
and department heads in charge of finance, human resources, information
technology and public works.
In that light, the contract involves a "not to exceed" price, guarantees
to assure "consistent and quality" staff expertise from the vendor, a
payment schedule tied to performance milestones and the sharing of any
savings if the project comes in under budget.
"Annual ongoing maintenance and support fees will begin at $386,564 with
contractually guaranteed incremental increases for a minimum of 10 years,"
Hymel's report added. Ongoing county staff costs will be roughly $750,000
less a year than the SAP system.
The county administrator noted a team of top managers and other staffers
worked for four years on preparations to replace the system, selected Tyler
as a finalist, then began talks with the firm last summer to draft a
contract. "It is imperative to implement a fully functioning software
program, which works effectively within our particular environment, and
serves the administrative functions that are used by all county
departments," Hymel's memo asserted.
Among those backing the new program is county finance chief Roy Given,
who as assistant treasurer was among critics of proceeding with the SAP
program in 2006. "We have done our very best up to this point, but we know
that we have a lot of work ahead of us to be successful," Given said. "All
the departments that should be involved ... are involved this time."
The grand jury last year lauded the county's cautious, studied approach
to planning for a new system but said it found some of the same deficiencies
in the process that plagued the SAP system. It questioned management,
criticized a reliance on consultants and said county supervisors were not as
involved as they should be.
"We do not believe there is a lack of best business practices expertise
in-house," the jury asserted, urging a consultant crackdown including strict
hiring guidelines. "The process of hiring outside consultants has become too
convenient for the Board of Supervisors."
But the jury noted that unlike last time, the county's high-tech staffers
were included in decision-making about the new high tech system, and better
staff training was planned.
The county decided to junk the SAP system in 2010, just four years after
installing it, after officials concluded it was more economical to start
over with new gear than to fix and maintain a program that did not work as
expected. The civil grand jury said after a probe that it cost the county
The county, claiming fraud and racketeering among a host of felonies,
filed dual lawsuits, but lost even more money when its legal battle went
belly up at the courthouse. The county board, which spent $5 million on
legal consultants, accepted a $3.9 million settlement with no public
A gag order approved behind closed doors by county supervisors gave
political, legal and liability cover to all parties, preventing anyone from
explaining who was accountable for what.
Dropped were all claims against Deloitte Consulting LLP, software giant
SAP and former county auditor Ernest Culver, who managed the computer
project before joining SAP.