Technology systems

City audit shows San Diego’s internal technology systems need greater transparency and accountability

A new city ​​check says San Diego needs to strengthen the transparency and accountability of its internal IT and technology system so workers can more effectively provide services to residents and businesses.

The 89-page audit comes as San Diego nearly tripled its spending on technology from $ 42 million in fiscal 2015 to $ 123 million in fiscal 2021.

Technology services, which now account for nearly 8% of San Diego’s $ 1.6 billion annual budget, have become more critical to the city’s operations during the pandemic.

Many city employees, especially white collar workers, have been working from home since spring 2020. And in many departments, online meetings have replaced in-person staff meetings.

The audit also comes as San Diego launches a campaign to modernize, automate and centralize its efforts to help city employees use technology and computers effectively.

City officials say the new campaign is ideal for complying with the findings of the audit, which recommends San Diego meet a higher standard for how tech staff respond to issues and concerns raised by the workers.

City council is expected to discuss the audit later this winter. The report says there should be a series of new “key performance indicators” to gauge how quickly technological issues are being resolved. It also recommends greater transparency on how the city spends money on technology to reduce the risk of overspending or layoffs. The greater transparency could help Mayor Todd Gloria and city council better assess the city’s spending on tech and help them understand why the tech budget has grown so rapidly in recent years.

The audit made seven formal recommendations. Jonathan Behnke, the city’s chief information officer, has agreed to implement each of them by July 1.

He said new contracts with external technology providers will help the city implement the necessary changes.

“The new contracts have modernized, automated and centralized various aspects of IT service delivery,” he said in response to the audit.

Centralizing employee tech support requests will make it easier for the city to track the number of requests it receives, how quickly those requests are resolved, and emerging trends in the types of requests submitted. Several systems have already processed the requests, so it was not possible for the city to track and analyze them all in one place.

The new contracts replace previous agreements from 2012. The new contracts are with Zensar Technologies for “enterprise and work compute services” and with CGI for support services and “application development and maintenance”.

The city’s technology departments are managed by more than 70 information technology workers and 45 radio engineers and public security support staff.

The city’s technological system spans 31 departments, more than 300 sites and more than 11,500 municipal employees.

A survey of city workers last April found that 67 percent rate the city’s information technology services as above average or excellent, while 21 percent rate them average. Just over 8 percent of workers rated them below average or poor.

The survey showed that 90 percent of workers requested technology help in the previous 12 months and that 74 percent had made multiple requests.

The audit noted that the city’s efforts should become more effective in solving the problems. Over 22% of requests were “usually not fully resolved” on the first try, and issues were sometimes taken “unreasonably long” to resolve.