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Scranton, Pa., Names Interim IT Network Systems Manager

Mayor Paige Gebhardt Cognetti appointed former Scranton business administrator Carl Deeley interim IT network systems manager effective July 7 — the day after City Council rejected Deeley’s appointment as IT director.

downtown scranton
Downtown Scranton, Pa.
Flickr/Brand Clinesmith
(TNS) — Mayor Paige Gebhardt Cognetti appointed former Scranton business administrator Carl Deeley interim IT network systems manager effective July 7 — the day after city council rejected Deeley’s appointment as IT director.

The city also plans to issue a request for qualifications to secure third-party IT services through a competitive process, Cognetti confirmed. Scranton is currently paying Jessup-based Bedrock Technology $12,750 per a month for IT services the city secured under an emergency declaration, without soliciting competitive bids, following the unexpected April resignation of IT network systems manager and former department Director Frank Swietnicki.

Swietnicki transitioned to the network systems manager role, a new position created in the 2021 budget, at the beginning of the year as part of a reorganization of the department. His resignation prompted the emergency declaration and no-bid arrangement with Bedrock, which officials argue was necessary to safeguard Scranton’s data network and operations and respond to potential IT issues.

Cognetti’s administration tried in vain for months to fill both the IT network systems manager and director positions, but few qualified candidates emerged. She ultimately appointed Deeley to serve as IT director effective June 1, when Larry West replaced Deeley as business administrator.

But council unanimously rejected Deeley’s appointment as IT director July 6, arguing he lacks the qualifications and technical experience for the job. While those concerns remain, Deeley’s appointment as interim IT network systems manager, which carries an annual salary of $61,100, is not subject to council’s approval.

“It just is a very confusing move by the mayor to basically go around council in this way,” council President Bill Gaughan said. “We already said he was not qualified to be the IT director and she, I guess, ignores our advice and then puts him in this position, which I don’t believe he’s really qualified for either.”

Cognetti maintains Deeley is qualified for the interim IT position and was qualified for the IT director’s job, arguing he amassed experience managing IT teams and processes over the course of his career. In the new role, Deeley will “continue to work on the same work streams that we proposed in the director’s position,” Cognetti said, calling him “the person in charge of the IT department” since there’s no director.

Among other duties, he’ll continue working closely with the team implementing OpenGov, a modern digital platform that will replace Scranton’s antiquated IT systems. He’ll also serve as the point person for Bedrock, Scranton’s third-party IT partner secured under the emergency declaration.

The city requires outside IT assistance and will issue the RFQ seeking it later this summer, Cognetti said, arguing “we’re never going to be able to fund the full suite of technology solutions that a city of our size and importance needs in-house with taxpayer dollars.”

How long Deeley remains in the interim position remains to be seen. The Cognetti administration plans to work with council during the 2022 budget process, taking into account potential responses to the city’s forthcoming RFQ, to determine what the IT department’s organization will look like next year.

“I think in the coming months we’ll be putting together a proposal for ... a new organization around IT in our city,” the mayor said. “Potentially Carl would be the IT director of that new organization, but that job description would look different because we’d have different responsibilities as we ... take off some of the technical pieces that we’re just never going to be able to afford to do in-house.”

By the end of May, the city had nearly exhausted the IT department’s $245,000 professional services budget for the year. But the administration requested a budget transfer in late June moving $75,000 in unspent IT department salary to supplement the professional services line item, leaving it with a balance of $79,828.10 at the end of last month, Controller John Murray said.

© 2021 The Times-Tribune (Scranton, Pa.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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