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Kane County OKs delay in computer system upgrade bid solicitation

GENEVA – Those overseeing the various offices that run Kane County’s court system have opted to wait a few weeks longer before taking the next step on their plan to upgrade the county’s courts-related computer systems.

And the county’s chief executive also warned his fellow officeholders that he will be reluctant to support any plan without knowing its full cost up front.

Wednesday, Kane County’s Judicial and Public Safety Technology Task Force endorsed holding off until April on soliciting bids from vendors that could help the offices of the state’s attorney and public defender design and install electronic case document management systems.

The task force panel includes representatives of the County Board, the county’s judiciary, Sheriff Pat Perez, State’s Attorney Joe McMahon, Circuit Clerk Tom Hartwell and Public Defender Kelli Childress, among others.

The delay was suggested by the county’s chief information officer, Roger Fahnestock, and a consultant from the National Center for State Courts, a firm contracted by the county to guide it through the upgrade process.

They noted the state’s attorney’s office and public defender’s office were prepared to submit their requests for proposals to potential software designers immediately.

But they told the task force a delay could allow vendors the chance to submit a single bid package to include the circuit clerk’s office, potentially saving money.

The circuit clerk’s office held off on joining the push for the new computer system until voters could select a new clerk.

Hartwell took office earlier this month, replacing former Circuit Clerk Deb Seyller.

He told the task force that his office was “further ahead of schedule” than had been believed, and his office could submit a request for proposal by early April.

McMahon expressed displeasure with the idea of waiting two more months to continue work on a project that he said his office “needed yesterday or a year ago.”

But he and others on the task force yielded to the recommendation from the county’s information-technology professionals, who noted that any system the county installs would need to begin with the circuit clerk’s office, from which originates much of the data used by other offices.

The task force also addressed questions of cost Wednesday.

The NCSC estimated the county could spend about $2.4 million in 2013 on the project, but more would be needed in following years.

To address some of the cost, the county last year agreed to dedicate about $800,000 a year in sales taxes to the project.

But County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen said those overseeing the project need to present future cost estimates.

Past estimates have ranged up to $12.6 million for the project.

But county officials said they will know more about the future cost once the county receives responses to its bid solicitations from vendors.

“For my support, I need to know the whole cost,” Lauzen said. “Not something piecemeal.”

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