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Meadville, Pa., Shores Up Cybersecurity With New IT Provider

Meadville City Council members approved a contract with a new IT provider. The city was seeking better cybersecurity and wanted to get away from "day-to-day" issues it experienced with its previous provider.

Information technology provider
(TNS) — When Meadville City Council members unanimously approved an agreement last week with the city's third information technology (IT) provider in the past 15 months, members knew that the latest contract would bring a "slightly more expensive" price tag, as City Manager Maryann Menanno said at the time.

The finalization of the city's agreement with Erie-based TechWorx LLC in the days following the Dec. 1 approval revealed that the increased annual cost will be about $23,500, but the extra expense will be worth it, according to Menanno.

The move away from Hagan Business machines of Meadville was in "the best interests of the city," she told council last week. "The amount of IT support that we will receive is to the level that we need and the opinion of city staff is that that is worth the slightly increased cost."

The agreement with TechWorx includes a monthly fee of $6,862.25 that covers management of the city's servers, cybersecurity protection and other services as well as unlimited remote support. The agreement also includes one-time start-up fees of $7,420 and comes with an on-site hourly service rate of $60 per hour.

The city originally contracted with Hagan in October 2020 to replace its previous IT consultant, Coppola Enterprises Inc. The agreement with Hagan included start-up fees of $3,190 and a monthly cost of $3,495.

It wasn't long, however, before that agreement and the associated costs were revisited.

One day after council approved the agreement with Hagan, the city's computer network experienced what was later classified as a "data incident" involving "suspicious traffic data leaving our server," then-City Manager Andy Walker said a year ago. The "data incident" was considered less serious than a data breach, but concerning enough to lead to an immediate shutdown and to leave city employees without email access for several days.

In the wake of the incident, council approved payment of $12,800 for Hagan's response as well as an additional monthly services agreement for $1,410, bringing the annual IT service cost to nearly $59,000.

With the switch TechWorx, that cost is now over $82,000.

Among the added advantages, Menanno told the Tribune on Wednesday, is around-the-clock availability that will be especially valuable for Meadville Police Department.

"If something happens the police department can directly contact TechWorx and not have to wait for business hours like they have to now," she said.

TechWorx will handle cybersecurity for the city, but Menanno said the change in providers was motivated primarily by "day-to-day" issues. The city has not experienced any cybersecurity incidents this year, she added.

©2021 The Meadville Tribune, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.