Manatee County, Fla.'s IT team didn't want to spend another year battling the arbitrary limits on the back end of the county's website.

For five years, a patchwork mix of legacy systems turned simple Web IT tasks into time-consuming chores. With only 10 IT staff members working on the project, the county's IT team had to create content and upload files to the content management system (CMS). But there were file size limitations so they had to hold files on a separate server. They couldn't see front-end changes without publishing them, and sometimes edits just disappeared completely.

"You had to have things inserted in a correct order or you could lose your work," said Matthew Arriaga, software designer for the county's Information Services Department. "It was a difficult system to learn."

Two years ago, the county began exploring open source alternatives that would upgrade the site without draining the county's limited budget. The department wanted a website that was more user friendly and offered better services to citizens, Arriaga said. And why not? In recent years, many local governments had improved online services. Shouldn't Manatee County residents be able to pay tickets online or apply for licenses? Shouldn't county employees be able to address the government with real-time concerns?

After sending out an RFP to solicit vendor solutions, Manatee County found Magnolia CMS and now plans to launch a new-and-improved Internet portal for all county departments this summer. The county paid $30,600 for the new system.


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Russell Nichols  |  Staff Writer