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  839 4th Street
  Eureka, CA 95501
707 445-7556
707 445-7473


There are several significant issues that impact the county as it utilizes information technology to support its business functions.

PC Replacements, Software Upgrades and Network Upgrades

Staffing – Security, networks, and technical services

1. PC Replacements, Software Upgrades and Network Upgrades

The county does not have a plan in place for the replacement of older personal computers with new systems. The county does not have a plan in place for regular updates to personal computer software. The county does not have a plan in place for funding upgrades to the shared network infrastructure. The lack of regular PC replacement leaves a PC landscape littered with many makes, models, and vintages. The lack of regular software upgrades leaves of working landscape of incompatible software. The impact is two-fold: departments and county staff work with computers that can’t keep up and technical staff time is wasted as it manages this disparate landscape.

Although we do not have a plan in place, we do have a process or practice which has become the defacto approach for upgrading PCs, software and the network. This practice is primarily large projects. The Sheriff just replaced most of the PCs in their department as part of the Computer Aided Dispatch and Records Management System. The Library just replaced 65 PCs as part of their new system project. Both departments upgraded the software on the remaining PCs and purchased some network equipment. However, there is ‘core’ network equipment that will be impacted by these new systems that did not get upgraded.

Many counties in California, including rural counties, are adopting Refresh programs and network infrastructure funds. The goal of the Refresh programs is to maintain personal computers in the county with the same, latest version of software in all the offices. The rewards reaped from the Refresh programs are better productivity from county staff and technical support staff. The network infrastructure funds are used for both major and minor upgrades to the backbone infrastructure that is used by everyone.

The change to a Refresh program will take several years to fully implement. Sutter County has a program in place that (1) keeps PCs on the desktop that can run the latest software and (2) puts the latest software on the PCs. It accomplishes the Refresh program by charging a per PC rate to departments that allows for the purchase of a block of new computers each year and the participation in a software license agreement with Microsoft who provides the latest software for all PCs.

With approval and support by the Board of Supervisors, such a plan can get underway. First, the goals for the PC and software refresh cycles would be established. A per PC surcharge schedule would be developed and separate funds established to help account for the charges and subsequent purchases. For the network infrastructure, a one-to-three year plan would first be documented and the costs determined. A per PC surcharge schedule would then be developed with a separate fund for appropriate accounting.

2. Staffing – Security, networks, and technical services

The integrity of the county’s information systems is the concern of everyone, but it is the day-to-day responsibility of Information Technology. Many corporations, state agencies, and counties are focusing more attention on security policies and practices. The strategic importance of an operational information infrastructure is now clear to everyone. With the advent of Homeland security at the Federal level, state and local agencies are now establishing Information Security officers or other positions with a similar title. This position focuses on establishing appropriate information security policies and assisting in their implementation.

The county’s network is the backbone of our information infrastructure. The county’s network has grown using the networking expertise of both the I.T. Manager and the Technical Services Supervisor while technical services staff are used to implement solutions. Most organizations with a network as large as the county have dedicated network specialists that design, implement, and maintain the networks. The county needs to recognize the importance of the network and staff accordingly.

The technical service staff is responsible installing and supporting the office PCs and printers, network devices and network-wide services, and the technical support of the servers. As the number of PCs grows, as the number of network nodes and locations increases, and as the complexity of new network services evolves, the technical services staff are simply overburdened. For the past five years, we have consistently hired extra-help and consultants to assist with the technical services workload. This past year and this coming year, we will need to use staff time from the systems administrators and application and programming support staff to assist with the workload.

All three of the work areas described, security officer, network specialist, and technical support staff, require staffing or more staffing. They range from older needs that are growing each year, to needs that have been filled by tapping other resources, to needs that are emerging and need to be recognized. There are enhanced budget requests that address some band-aid approaches, but the full funding of several new positions is clearly needed.


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