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Report Is Ignored, Official Contends

The city controller rebukes the council on what she sees as a lack of follow-up to a study of computer systems.

September 05, 2003|Patrick McGreevy | Times Staff Writer

A year after the city of Los Angeles spent $1 million on a study to find better ways of modernizing its computer systems, the report has largely languished on a shelf, ignored by key decision-makers, City Controller Laura Chick said Thursday.

In a strongly worded letter to the City Council, Chick said the 2002 report had not received the public discussion it deserves by the council or the Department of Water and Power Commission. The report offered suggestions that could have helped the DWP avoid spending $20 million on a new billing system, only to abandon it recently, she said.

"When this report was released last November, it offered a significant and fundamental blueprint for positive change," Chick wrote. "Now, however, it sits as a million-dollar documentation of missed opportunities."

While DWP officials said much of the development work on its billing software can probably be used in a new system by another vendor, City Council members, including Tony Cardenas, have launched an investigation into the problem-plagued project.

Chick said some of the problems could have been avoided. She cited a chapter in the report, by the auditing firm Barrington-Wellesley Group Inc., that recommended several ways the DWP computer systems could "more effectively and efficiently" help the agency do its job, including centralizing the system and using detailed performance standards.

The report said that the agency's development of its computer systems has "largely been unsuccessful and expensive," and that higher-level officials than those assigned should be put in charge.

DWP spokeswoman Carol Tucker said the agency has reviewed the audit and will address it when it briefs the council later this month. She declined to comment on whether the report could have solved problems with the billing system.

"The report has been studied and looked at and will be incorporated into whatever report we come up with for the council," Tucker said.

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