County Searches for Solutions After Sole IT Worker Retires

In the midst of its former IT leader stepping down, Lawrence County, Ala., is trying to patch together their IT department while looking for a long term solution, which might include outsourcing to a vendor.

by Michael Wetzel, The Decatur Daily, / March 7, 2019

(TNS) — Facing a slew of information technology problems, the Lawrence County, Ala., Commission is preparing to bid for services and is uncertain which budget should be used for funding.

After Steve Fry, a Sheriff’s Office employee who handled the county's IT issues, retired in January, Lawrence County has patched problems while seeking a solution.

At a work session Wednesday morning, the commissioners appeared to favor hiring an IT service company instead of employing a worker to handle the issues.

County Administrator Heather Dyar said the county would likely have to pay more than $80,000 annually to get an IT manager, while it could possibly contract with a service company at a lower rate and have it be more reliable than an IT manager, who might be unavailable.

She said presently there is no expert on board. “We’re basically sitting ducks,” she said.

Daniel Starr, managing partner of Lightwire Solutions of Decatur, recently toured the Sheriff’s Office and jail with Sheriff Max Sanders Sr. and said the county will need to update about $2,500 worth of computer equipment and software.

“Most of your computers are running Windows 7,” he said. “In January of next year, Microsoft will no longer be offering security patches for that version.”

Starr said his company can handle 90 to 95 percent of computer problems remotely. “We can come onsite when needed,” he said.

He warned the county must get updated virus protection and cited the Sept. 18, 2017, cyberattack on Montgomery County computers. News reports said the attack shut down government computers within the county commission, probate office and sheriff’s office for nearly three weeks. Montgomery commissioners reportedly paid $37,000 to hackers to retrieve vital stolen data.

Starr said Lawrence County’s computers will need about two months of cleanup work.

“I toured the Sheriff’s Office and saw a hodgepodge of different equipment needing service sooner than later,” he said.

District 4 Commissioner Bobby Burch said he favors the cost of an IT contract to fairly come out of the budgets of all departments.

©2019 The Decatur Daily (Decatur, Ala.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.