By Elizabeth Bennett  |  Posted 2004-04-01 Print this article Print

Government officials have their share of information-system hang-ups.

Back To School
In August of 2003, it looked like an Oracle software bug was going to hold up Baltimore City Public School System's (BCPSS) deployment of its $16 million Human Resources Management System. Initially scheduled to be deployed the previous month, the software would finally give BCPSS centralized control over its finances.

Payroll and other functions previously had been outsourced to municipal services, and a delay in the switchover threatened to cost the school system a half-million dollars a month-including the $69,000 a month it was still paying the city. With the payroll system still outsourced and not linked with BCPSS's budgeting system, school officials were forced to use average teacher salaries to budget for the 2004 fiscal year instead of actual payroll numbers.

According to Vanessa Pyatt, spokesperson for BCPSS, the system is in pilot now and will go fully online in May. The delay actually ended up saving the school system money on the Oracle implementation because it allowed BCPSS's technology staff to learn the software, deploy the system internally and drop the consultants it had hired.

Nevertheless, the savings of a few thousand dollars are a drop in the bucket compared to the school system's recently disclosed $58 million deficit, which in part can be blamed on the old financial systems that the Oracle applications will replace.

Senior Writer
Elizabeth has been writing and reporting at Baselinesince its inaugural issue. Most recently, Liz helped Fortune 500 companies with their online strategies as a customer experience analyst at Creative Good. Prior to that, she worked in the organization practice at McKinsey & Co. She holds a B.A. from Vassar College.

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