Wednesday, December 8, 2010

ICA OK's Budget If....

The Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (ICA) has given approval to the Pittsburgh’s 2011 budget but not until the council passed a bill promising to purchase new management software. For more than four years the ICA has been calling on the City to upgrade the software that several departments and the Pittsburgh City Controller’s office use to manage budget and H-R matters but has been thwarted at every turn. The 2010 budget was approved this time last year with a stipulation that the new ERP software be purchased to replace the old system that the ICA feels is not transparent enough and the City Controller fears could crash at any time. The city has been slow to make the purchase partially because $9 million dollars in state funding requested by the ICA has not materialized but ICA Board Chair Barbara McNees says that should not be a concern. “The governor’s office is working to get through the contract process through the Treasurers office and get the check done,” says McNees, “Just trying to work through the process while they are also working through transition issues it has taken a little bit longer.” McNees says the check should be delivered to Grant Street by mid January. The $9 million comes from the sale of the city’s old court building.

The ERP software to be used is also used by Allegheny County and the goal is to reduce costs by working cooperatively. However, if the county does not enter into an agreement with Pittsburgh the city is still obligated to move forward. The County Council is to take up a cooperative agreement later this month and it is expected to pass.

Under the plan the city would pay for upgrades to the County-owned system and then have the ability to use that same software. It would also then be available to City and County authorities. ICA Executive Director Henry Sciortino says since the Pittsburgh Public School District also uses the same system they could be brought in to begin the process of creating a region-wide system. He contends that the more entities brought into the pool the larger the savings.

Pittsburgh City Councilman Bill Peduto says this is the first step toward merging some City and County operations to “achieving real savings.” Peduto says the value of the city using the system goes beyond cost savings, “What it means to the public [is] more transparency, being able to easily see where funds are coming from and where funds are being expended.”

A final vote on the purchase is expected next week and the Mayor is expected to sign it.

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