Report on township’s IT services presented to board as contract nears end

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By: Joshua Gordon | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published December 6, 2017

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — The Macomb Township four-year information technology services contract is coming to an end, and the Board of Trustees will have to make a decision for the first time since 2013 on which direction to take the township’s IT support.

The township entered into an agreement with Farmington Hills-based BPI Information Systems in 2013 after a study by Plante Moran and a request for proposal. The contract was for three years, with a one-year extension that was picked up, for $146,000 per year.

“Several years ago, we had Plante Moran come in and tell us exactly what we needed as far as either a technology director or a company to support us,” Supervisor Janet Dunn said during the Nov. 20 board meeting. “They determined it would be a company that would be best suited towards our needs, and we interviewed several companies, and BPI was the low bidder.”

With the contract set to expire Jan. 1, residents are hesitant for the board to just renew the township’s contract with BPI without going back out for bid. The concern comes after issues have arisen about the township’s purchasing policy and bid process in recent years.

Work was done in 2014 on the Township Hall parking lot with a company being paid for work it didn’t do; this was in connection with federal charges filed against Trustee Dino Bucci that allegedly included kickbacks to Bucci.

And this year, a nearly $725,000 contract was requested to be handed out for work on the Macomb Township Recreation Center’s pool dehumidification system without going out for bid. The board required the work go out for bid and approved a roughly $682,000 contract in September.

The incidents led to Clerk Kristi Pozzi bringing in an independent auditor to review the township’s purchasing policy and talk to department heads. Pozzi has said she expects a report back by the end of the year.

For an IT services contract that could be worth more than $500,000 across four years, several residents voiced concern at the Nov. 20 meeting that no request for bids had been sent out with about six weeks left until the end of the year.

Resident Jim Gelios urged Dunn and the board to go out for bid and entertain the idea of doing more IT work in-house to save money.

“We already have an IT manager who could be used for normal day-to-day services,” Gelios said during the public comments section of the meeting. “BPI should be used for an as-needed or on-call basis. I want to see competitive bids, per our purchasing policy, for IT services to ensure we are getting the best deal possible for our money.”

BPI President Beth Case presented a state of the information technology report during the meeting, discussing what BPI has done for the township over the past four years and what BPI is still focusing on moving forward.

Through the contract, BPI has provided, among other services, networking, data center support, database support, risk analysis support and help desk support, along with service 24 hours a day, every day.

Case said one of the first things BPI did when coming on board in 2014 was fix the township’s 911 call issue, where any call made from a township building showed up as the Township Hall address.

BPI also reconfigured data backup, acquired the proper licenses for the township and reconfigured the township’s firewall.

Going forward, Case said they would continue to focus on security as well as update, via replacement or upgrades, certain technology that is reaching the end of its life.

“BPI’s partnership has enabled the township to have budgeted predicted costs for IT services,” Case said. “We have provided a more stable network, a more secure network and done it with the best interest of the township with proactive maintenance.”

Case cited a benchmark study done for Canton Township that looked at several metro Detroit municipalities’ IT services. In the study, Case said, the total IT budget as it relates to the overall budget for peers averaged 2.6 percent of the total budget, while Macomb Township sat at 1.44 percent.

“That’s value,” Case said.

Dunn said the board has not decided what action to take on the contract as of Dec. 4.