City Hall computers found vulnerable

City Hall is apparently dysfunctional when it comes to computer technology.

The City lacks adequate security, puts important public information at risk, fails to upgrade software appropriately and does not have a good plan for purchasing new technology, according to a city audit released Wednesday by the Budget Analyst’s Office.

The IT challenges exist despite the fact that in the last fiscal year alone The City sank $173 million into information technology systems — including personnel, hardware and software, according to the audit.

Even when The City attempts to improve its IT, problems arise. The City’s so-called Justice Information Tracking System — a project launched in 1997 to replace the outdated court management system that would allow the public safety departments to share and track information — is seven years past due.

The project has “been open-ended with neither a firm completion date nor project budget” and it will end up costing “at least an estimated $10.5 million or 70 percent more than the original project cost of $15 million,” Budget Analyst Harvey Rose said.

Improving the way The City deals with its IT by just 5 percent would save about $4.5 million, Rose said.

“This is a very scathing assessment. Apparently there is not a lot of oversight, budgeting is deficient in tracking, guidelines for departments are very poor, civil service classifications don’t make sense,” said Supervisor Tom Ammiano, who requested the audit.

Among the audit’s findings is that The City’s “process for planning and purchasing information technology is totally inadequate” and that “most technological upgrades happen only when required to do so by law or because the existing systems have failed.”

The City’s IT system is also plagued with “inadequate” security, according to Rose. City employees have entered “confidential data into their personal data drives” and vendors and contractors have had “broad access to department information systems,” Rose said.

Ammiano plans on scheduling a board committee hearing to discuss the audit’s findings.

jsabatini@examiner.com

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