FAIRBANKS — Borough information technology director Jim Cobb presented the assembly with a picture of a warehouse full of boxes of documents the municipality saves. Another photo was of a thumb drive.
“All of those paper documents can fit on that thumb drive,” Cobb told the assembly at a recent finance committee meeting.
The Fairbanks North Star Borough needs to update its records management and financial management systems, Cobb said.
An ordinance before the assembly on Thursday would pay for new hardware, software, vendor support and eight temporary employees to help while the municipality embarks on a two-year project to modernize its decades-old information technology systems. The cost for the project is estimated at $2.6 million.
The current information systems are antiquated and becoming harder to maintain, Cobb said. Hewlett-Packard reportedly stopped manufacturing hardware for the borough’s financial management system in 2008. One municipal employee joked that the government will soon need to go on eBay to get replacement parts.
“We have been aware of this situation for years,” Cobb told the assembly. “It won’t be any fun if the current system that we have fails.”
The project would involve eight senior municipal employees working with a vendor to prepare, tailor and test the new technology systems. The temps would help pick up the slack in five departments, financial services, purchasing, payroll, the clerk’s office and computer services.
The entry-level jobs would last two years, though for now the assembly is being asked to fund the positions for six months. The positions are union jobs involving full benefits.
Cobb wants to digitize records so specific documents can be called up on a computer screen. Certain historic documents would still be kept in paper form, according to the clerk’s office.
The upgraded financial management system would reduce the number of systems, servers and databases and reduce the need for data entry.
The borough is negotiating with the technology services company SunGuard to provide the new systems plus support. The assembly has already appropriated $275,000 toward the project.
The financial management system would get upgraded while the records management system would be completely replaced.
“It’s going to be an evolutionary process,” Cobb said.
The current records management system uses three types of software that are not integrated and must be used separately for functions involving paper records, scanned records and electronic records, according to the ordinance.
“Now is the time to act,” Cobb said.
Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at email@example.com.