County's new computer system encounters `bumps in the road'

Participants in program weren't paid on time

September 22, 1999|By Matthew Mosk | Matthew Mosk,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County officials are looking a bit like deadbeats because of glitches in a new computer system, members of the County Council complained at a meeting last night.

Council Chairman Daniel E. Klosterman Jr. said he heard over the weekend from participants in the county's foster grandparent program who had not been paid on time. They were told that their checks were late going out because of problems in a computer system that the county finished installing in May.

"People don't care why," Klosterman said. "If they've performed a service for the county, they expect to get paid."

Called before the council last night to respond to the concerns, budget director John R. Hammond said problems with the $8 million system have affected more than the foster grandparents program.

"We believe this is a system that will be very advantageous, but I'd also say quite candidly that things aren't running on all cylinders," Hammond told the council. "We've had a few bumps in the road."

He described a major bump in June when the computer record of the county's purchase orders made over a two-year period was accidentally wiped out.

"That was not a good morning when I walked in and heard that," Hammond said.

The county began installing the system in December to replace an old computer network that was unprepared for possible year 2000 problems. It is set up to handle most of the county's bookkeeping, including purchase orders and checks to pay employees and contractors.

Marvin Bond, chief of staff to County Executive Janet S. Owens, played down the problem.

"This is normal, big-system shakedown," he said.

Hammond agreed, saying most of the major flaws have been and repaired.

He said county officials have withheld payment for some of the computer work in case they are charged for repairing problems with the new system.

"I don't want this burden dumped on the county if it's not the county's fault," Klosterman said.

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