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Harford County government plans to spend $10 million to upgrade its protective software system.

Bill 10-17, which provides the lease purchase for the software system, was introduced at the Harford County Council legislative session May 18. A public hearing for the bill will be at 6 p.m. June 15 in the county council chambers.

Justus Eapen, chief information officer for the county, described the program as “safeguarding business operations.”

“It’s not just a single piece of technology,” Eapen said during a brief interview recently.

The bill states the software system is “necessary and essential” to secure, protect and safeguard all or a portion of the business and financial operations of the county.

The agreement, which is not to exceed $10 million, will be executed through the competitive bid process, according to Bill 10-17.

“This is an opportunity to modernize the entire environment,” Eapen said.

There are multiple problems with the county’s current system, according to Eapen, and his objective is to bring the system up to date.

“We use mainframe applications,” he said. “Some of them are 20 to 25 years old.”

Mainframe screens are typically black and white and require the user to manually enter commands.

The air-conditioning units at the county’s data centers are 15 to 18 years old, according to Eapen, and a failure could mean big problems for the county’s computer systems.

“We’re constantly moving fans,” Eapen said. “We stand the risk of systems shutting down in a non-graceful manner.”

Rebuilding the data centers would cost $2 million to $3 million each, Eapen said, and would be cost prohibitive.

“It’s not practical to keep things the way they are today,” Eapen said. “The county is taking a huge risk.”

Eventually, Eapen said he would like to move the county from the mainframe applications to web-based applications for business purposes.

A new program would allow different systems to communicate with one another.

“There are a lot of inefficiencies in the way we do business,” Eapen said.

While the system upgrade comes with a multimillion dollar price tag, Eapen believes it is fiscally responsible and necessary.

“We look at the opportunity that will create the best value for the taxpayer,” Eapen said. “...We always look to see what is most responsible for the taxpayers.”


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