Patience Waning on County Software Problems

Software access and complexity issues that have been eroding the confidence of some county managers about the reliability of Clarke County’s fiscal and budget data are no closer to being solved nearly two months after a site visit by OpenRDA president Dave Davis, the county’s software provider.

Clarke County, Virginia

Problems with the open source fund accounting software package, OpenXpert, has prompted many county managers to maintain paper records or desktop spreadsheets rather than rely on OpenRDA’s software available from county servers.

“A lot of people don’t trust our system to be right” County Administrator David Ash told OpenRDA president Dave Davis at an August 24th Joint Administrative Services meeting held at the county office building. ““A lot of people are keeping their own individual balances. That’s expensive because we’re still managing our financial information on a paper basis.”

(see “County Tackles Software Problems”, www.clarkedailynews.com/11581/11581)

Much of the criticism leveled at OpenXpert appears focused on difficulties by users in getting to needed information quickly and efficiently. At the previous meeting Davis said that OpenRDA’s latest software release has the same functionality but with an improved software interface.

However, Clarke County Treasurer Sharon E Keeler said yesterday that a recent software demonstration of OpenRDA’s new interface left her dissatisfied.

“I had a webinar demonstration of the new interface and it was not user friendly” Keeler told the Joint Administrative Services committee on Tuesday. “I would not work well for customer service at all.”

At the August meeting Clarke County Supervisors Chairman Michael Hobert (Berryville) suggested to Davis that it was in the best interests of both Clarke County and OpenRDA to resolve the current software problems and suggested a path for moving ahead.

“We’ve been a client of yours for twenty years.“ Hobert said. “Isn’t it reasonable under the circumstances for you to provide a professional team to evaluate what our priority needs are?”

At the time Davis appeared receptive to Hobert’s suggestion and committed to respond after his return to OpenRDA’s headquarters in Canton. Georgia. “We’d love to see Clarke County have a fully integrated system here with our software as the foundation” Davis said.

But despite Davis’s positive statement, county officials still are no closer to either resolving the OpenXpert problems or to moving forward with a request for proposals to purchase a new software solution.

Yesterday Chairman Hobert renewed his resolve to solve the matter.

Hobert instructed County Administrator David Ash to press OpenRDA on its commitment and scheduled a special November 15th Joint Administrative Services meeting to make a decision on how to proceed.

“It has been several months now” Hobert told the committee members. “We need to find out whether OpenRDA is interested in doing this or not. We may have to press ahead on a dual track of issuing an RFP while we continue to work with Open RDA.”