(TNS) -- Franklin County Auditor Clarence Mingo wants to update the county's computer center by hiring a private company for information technology services, a move that could cut 30 county jobs.
"Technology has changed significantly in the last 10 years," Mingo said. "Franklin County has to be on the same level of competency as the rest of the world."
The data center, with an $11 million budget in 2016, provides IT and computer services for 44 county government departments and offices. Mingo's office administers the data center and its 60 employees, but it is overseen by an appointed board.
In July, Mingo brought to the board a proposal he said would save taxpayers millions while providing up-to-date, around-the clock IT services and security. To do that, though, about half of the current data center workers, whose skills and expertise may not have kept pace with technology, could lose their jobs.
In addition to saving $4.3 million over five years, Mingo's plan would modernize the data center, where some workers specialize in software that is 30 years old.
Mingo suggested it would be too costly to retrain existing employees and far more efficient to hire a private company for those services.
Franklin County Recorder Terry J. Brown, a data center board member, supports improvements and saving money.
"At the end of the day, the county still has to move forward," Brown said. "If those don't fit the needs of the county, we need to look at what works best for the county as a whole."
Two other data center board members, though, suggested Mingo's original plan was insufficient, and the board commissioned a $250,000 study. The study recommends replacing some data center workers with a private company.
"The original plan was, in our opinion, rushed and not well thought out," Commissioner John O'Grady said. "This study far surpasses any recommendation that was made by the auditor. There is a blueprint here that was not part of the original plan."
Ed Leonard served on the data center board as Franklin County Treasurer and continues to do so in his new job as head of the Board of Elections. He agreed that more questions needed to be answered after Mingo's summer proposal, resulting in the study.
"If we're going to look at this," Leonard said, "we need to look at it much more comprehensively."
Mingo, a Republican, took exception to the comments from Democrats O'Grady and Leonard.
“The initial plan was well-conceived and cost-effective," Mingo responded. "Our collective goal should be progress through innovation, not conjecture over whose plan is best.”
The study also suggests:
- Charging county agencies only for the data center services used instead of the current annual appropriation from the county's general fund.
- Using multiple private contractors to encourage competition, better service and lower costs.
- Considering a three-year plan for the elimination of any jobs or retraining of workers.
"When we agreed to do the study, I had an understanding we would follow the recommendation," O'Grady said. If that means fewer jobs, "we accept that."
©2016 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.