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City software switch expected to cost $300,000

New Hampshire Union Leader

February 06. 2013 11:38PM

MANCHESTER - After two years and much talk of streamlining and modernization, it appears to be back to square one for the city's computer system.

The aldermen on Tuesday voted to sever its current software contract with Innoprise and return to the city's former software vendor, SunGard.

The vote was based on an intensive review by a special steering committee that included City Finance Director Bill Sanders and City Clerk Matt Normand.

The committee recommended the city end the contract with Harris Computer Systems, the parent company of Innoprise, at the end of this fiscal year and enter into a new contract with SunGard.

As for the development of the once-touted integrated software system, that will have to wait, Sanders said.

"The most important thing is that we get a detailed, commonly understood list of requirements in terms of what we're looking for in a new system, that doesn't only include department heads, but the aldermen," he said.

Both the option of continuing with Harris and going back to SunGard will cost more money. The committee estimated that a new contract with SunGard could cost up to $600,000, but would more likely be in the range of $300,000.

Continuing with Harris would cost another $450,000.

The committee described a third option of issuing a new Request for Proposals as too time-consuming and costly at this point.

The city has been paying Harris about $220,000 a year to operate and maintain the current system, according to officials.

Problems with the Innoprise contract began shortly after it was signed two years ago, after the founder of the company, Dennis Harward, was sued by SunGard for using inside knowledge of the HTE software system, which he originally developed. Harward then sold Innoprise to Harris, without consulting with city officials.

Alderman Patrick Arnold, who is running for mayor and has been critical of Mayor Ted Gatsas over the deal, had only one question: Who would be handling the next steps on the software deal?

Sanders said he and Normand would, to Arnold's apparent satisfaction.

The motion to accept the steering committee's recommendation passed unanimously.

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