August 12, 2009

City of Racine looks to get into the software business

The city of Racine may be getting into the software business.

Paul Ancona, director of information systems, hopes to sell the city's time management computer program to the city of Wauwatosa for $48,000 with an annual $8,000 tech support contract. The program was written by employees contracted by the city.

Ancona presented his plan to the Finance and Personnel Committee on Monday. He said the sale has a good chance because Wauwatosa budgeted $50,000 for the new software, but the closest bid from private contractors was $90,000. "It looks like it could work out," Ancona said.

Alderman Mike Shields asked about the support agreement and whether it would take away from the city. Ancona said it wouldn't. A separate phone line would be established for Wauwatosa and any extra work would be absorbed by the contractors who provide technical support for the city.

The agreement includes $8,000 up front for support, plus a billing rate of $80 per hour. The city pays $70 per hour for support, Ancona said.

Following the meeting, Ancona said Wauwatosa's interest suggests potential for additional sales. The city is sending an employee to a trade conference to gauge interest in Racine's program, he said.

Committee Note

Alderman Terry McCarthy is joining the Finance and Personnel Committee. He replaces former committee Chairman Tom Friedel, who left to first become mayor and then city administrator. Alderman Jim Spangenberg is chairman of the committee and City Council President Q.A. Shakoor II will be vice chairman. Aldermen Bob Anderson and Michael Shields also serve on the powerful committee, which reviews all spending proposals in the city.


  1. Nikola Tesla8/12/2009 9:37 AM

    Well that's more then RCEDC has done to bring jobs to Racine.

  2. The state government has performed so well in the IT business - local government should do just as well.

    What happens when the current IT staff has turnover - who will pick up the ball then?

  3. Can't we get the Geek Squad for less than $70 an hour?

  4. So, who gets the $80.00/hr ?? the city or the contractor? We don't need to drum up business for someone else !!

  5. Wasn't it these guys in the Racine IT department who said they couldn't figure out how to give Dustin the email info he requested about ex-mayor Becker? Hmmmm. Now they want to support some other city? Oh my gawd, have mercy on their city.

    Gee, whatever happened with that email request? Did Dustin just give up?

  6. Anon 10:59, you need to make an effort to try and interpret what is in the article. It clearly states that the support contractor will get $70 per hour for providing the help desk service and the city will receive $10 per hour for providing a direct phone line and making the services of the support contractor available.

    Also, the two issues are totally not comparable. Writing and managing a computer program is a whold different thing than dealing with the email issue. They are in no way related. I know, I have a degree in programming and spent 8 years as a systems administrator dealing with email servers and databases. The email database project is more of a research project dealing with thousands and thousands of email messages that need to be scrutinized and sifted through as opposed to simply writing and maintaing a program.

  7. anon 11:17
    The article IMPLIES, not clearly states !Also what is cost of seperate phone line ?? is the city going to make money on this or lose money ??

  8. Why did the City pay to custom build something that is available for free online in the first place? Most business and government folks doing time management use various free online applications to avoid this very cost.

    If they can find someone willing to pay that much for something can is free online more power to them.

  9. Typical blog trolls turning every positive into a negative. Turning everything upside down. Congratulatons will be in order should this go through!

  10. What my comment IMPLIES is if the city of Racine can't figure out a problem how to satisfy a perfectly doable email request who is to say they would be able to figure out how to support another city's problems. I was IMPLYING that the Racine IT department already had enough on their plate. Now do you get it? Besides, wouldn't the contractors who provide technical support for Racine balk at providing their services to a different client who they didn't have the opportunity to negotiate with?

  11. The city did figure out a way to fulfill the email request. Just because people don't like it doesn't mean they didn't provide a way.

  12. LOL @ Orbcorbs... doesn't know what he is talking about.

  13. You haven't noticed that before?

  14. LOL at dunderheads who can't discern sarcasm.

  15. The cities vehicle maintenence garage should give tuneups to the public too!

  16. Tim the Shrubber8/13/2009 8:32 AM

    "LOL at dunderheads who can't discern sarcasm."

    Are we supposed to be able to tell the difference between a snarky sarcastic comment and your normal snarky comments?

  17. Anon 10:59, you must be a product of RUSD. Here's the statement as quoted in the article: "...a billing rate of $80 per hour. The city pays $70 per hour for support." Now, due to your limited intellect and apparent diminished math skills, I will use small words to explain this to you.

    1. If a contractor charges Racine $70 per hour for program support, Racine pays $70 per hour for that support and everyone is happy.

    2. If Racine can provide a new client to the contractor so that the contractor can make even more money, at the same rate of $70 per hour, the contractor is even happier.

    3. If Racine charges the new client $80 per hour for the service, that means Racine pays the contractor directly for the new clients time at the $70 per hour rate and keeps the remaining $10 per hour for being the agent between the new client and the contractor. And everyone is happy.

    4. If #3 is difficult for you to comprehend, with your RUSD education, that means Racine charges $80 per hour from the new client, pays out $70 per hour to the contractor, and makes $10 profit for acting as the agent.
    (i.e. $80 - $70 = $10). And everyone is happy.

    There is nothing "IMPLIED" about it. It's a simple to understand STATEMENT.

    As far as the cost of the telephone line, that would be paid for with the first 2 - 3 hours of use by the City of Wauwatosa. The phone line is a negligable expense.

    The question I have is: why would the City of Wauwatosa want to throw away $10 per hour to the City of Racine instead of negotiating their own contract with the support company? There may be contractual agreements we know nothing about, but I would think something could be worked out so that the City of Wauwatosa could contact the support company directly without having to implement a new phone line for Racine.

    Anon 12:26, I have never seen anything free on-line that would fit the needs of a city government; for small business and personal use, yes, but not a city government. I'm not saying it doesn't exist, particularly if you are familiar with it, I've just never seen it. And if it does exist, then it needs to be thrown in the city's IT department's face and asked why our money was wasted to reinvent the wheel and to pay for support that we don't need.

    OrbsCorbs, it looks like some people have no sense of humor nor understand wit when they see it.

  18. I HOPE the city can make a profit doing this! How much did it cost the city on the front end (for the programming and such)?

    "... extra work would be absorbed by the contractors who provide technical support for the city." Are these contractors on-site for the city every day (at City Hall or such)? If so, it is safe to assume they bill for every hour they are on-premisses, right? If more work can be absorbed by them would that not then also mean that they do not have enough work? IOW: aren't they overstaffed or under-worked?

  19. Let me clarify a few things for everyone here:

    1) no you cant get the geek squad in here those guys are high school kids with no formal training and will never be able to cut it in the government setting.

    2) The city would be getting the $80 an hour for support.

    3) None of the current IT contractors get anywhere near $70 an hour that is the cost of having them here once you factor in the contract the city pays for there services rather than hire them on directly look into it.

    4) The city was more than happy to turn over the email as requested but with any public records request the requester must pay for the service aka the time it takes an employee to do that task and no one wanted to pay for it.

    5) The custom application that was written will interface into the other city application that is being used, you have to remember the city employees far more people than the average business and it needs to do far more than what is out there for free. If you get quotes from some vender's who do this for a living like Wauwatosa did, you will see it would have cost them far more to buy it else were. Also no matter how much it cost the city to build this in house this will offset the cost making it cheaper in the long run.

    6) Wauwatosa is dealing directly with the vendor the City of Racine wrote the application and own the rights to it etc. The fact everyone is outsourced has nothing to do with it.

  20. What I find most interesting is all the Anonymous posts on this site! Further more if you browse the site and look at the time stamps you can see a pattern. I think Pete and Dustin need to clean house, Comments from nobody’s limits the worthiness of the information. As for the E-Mail comment, I am a system administrator; Dustin’s request for information should have been filled in less than 24 hours. I can retrieve e-mail from any one of our systems 125 users with a few key strokes. Dustin should look at filing suit in regards to open records laws that the city failed to provide on. I think the idea of the city selling its custom program are great, yes you can find free options online but the custom options that a city needs to manage its resources is what make custom the best option!