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Audit Committee recommends in-house IT department

Audit Committee members gave unanimous approval to the motion to strongly recommend Washington County establish an in-house information technology department.
According to Mayor Dan Eldridge, the implementation of the Cisco Voice Over Inernet Protocol communication system is 90 percent complete, with the Washington County Office Building the last to be hooked up.
“We’ve done a lot to give us a level of security of information that the auditors expect,” Eldridge said during the Dec. 6 meeting. “The question we still struggle with is the in-house IT department.”
Eldridge said the administration agrees with the recommendation from auditing firm Blackburn, Childers and Steagall. “What we don’t have is a recommendation on how to accomplish it,” he said.
While the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and the Highway Department have staff members to handle IT needs, Eldridge said there is no main office to ensure policies on security and privacy are being maintained countywide.
“To accomplish this, we need to take the next step and establish an in-house IT department,” he said.
The VOIP system is being installed by Bailey Computing, but the support does not include outsourcing projects, which is why Eldridge said the county would be better served by an in-house department.
Audit Committee member Odie Major made a motion to strongly recommend county commissioners comply with the auditors’ recommendation for an in-house IT department.
Commissioner Pat Wolfe seconded the motion, offering an amendment to include a deadline of having the department ready to go with the beginning of fiscal 2014-15. The motion passed with unanimous approval.
The addition of a full-time information technology employee was recommended last fall as part of the proposal for a new network by an internal committee made up of Purchasing Director Willie Shrewsbury and WCSO information technology team members Rick Hawkins, Dean Royston and Wes Ford.
County-Owned Property Committee members were reluctant to recommend an additional employee prior to the installation of the system and an evaluation of the need, and the proposal was tabled. When the proposal was considered again in January, the full-time employee was not included.