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Sheriff's proposed software bugs others in county

By Brian Cuaron
Aug. 11, 2011 at 3:11 a.m.


NEW SOFTWARE COST

Although the Southern software would come free to the sheriff's office, it may end up burdening Victoria County with additional costs, listed below:

County Connect: This new software, proposed by the sheriff's office, would integrate the Southern and Odyssey softwares. Polk County has bought it for $30,000 with a $4,000 annual maintenance fee. Polk County was in the planning stages of implementing the software for three months.

Odyssey: The county would have to continue paying the $6,715 quarterly maintenance fee for the sheriff's office until Southern software was implemented. John Sestak said that could take six months.

Staff: Sestak said a considerable amount of time and resources would be used in testing the program. Also, calls to the three software companies would become more complex since each vendor would blame each other for the problems, Sestak said. Updates on any of them can cause integration problems.

The Victoria County Sheriff's Office may proceed with a software acquisition over the objection of commissioners court and various department officials.

The county uses a $1.5 million latest version of software called Odyssey that it bought three years ago. The software shares information between the sheriff's office, criminal district attorney, county and district clerks, said John Sestak, IT director for the county.

The concern among 17 personnel members who met on Thursday was that they would have to transfer information from one software to another if the sheriff's office installs a new software for itself.

"I'm not doing double work," said Cathy Stuart, who heads the district clerk's office.

And none of the personnel outside of the sheriff's office supported the move as well.

The state is offering the sheriff's office a $325,000 Southern software. Deputy Chief Terry Simons has described the Odyssey software as clunky and as not meeting the sheriff's needs.

Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor was on vacation this week and was unavailable for comment.

The issue first came up on Tuesday when Simons met with the court on Tuesday to go over requests not fulfilled in Judge Don Pozzi's proposed 2012 budget. At $47.9 million, the 2012 budget was up from this year's budget of $45.6 million.

Simons told the court that the sheriff's office would like to move forward with installing the Southern software. Pozzi indicated that wouldn't make sense if the court didn't approve the software.

"In discussion with the sheriff yesterday, it's his intention to move forward with Southern software," Simons said.

Pozzi asked Simons if that meant O'Connor would move forward with the software application regardless of what the court said. Simons said no, and that he was quoting O'Connor.

Pozzi told Simons he assumed the court would need to approve funding.

But after the court's meeting on Thursday, Simons said Sheriff O'Connor had the authority to use the new software because it didn't require funding from the court. However, the court would have to authorize any funding for maintenance fees in later years.

Pozzi said the court has all authority over budget issues, but it was his understanding the court couldn't dictate what software the sheriff's office uses.

Pozzi said the court would make its decision on the matter after speaking with O'Connor and the IT department early next week.

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