Joe Parker

Joseph Parker III

Deputy chief administrator presents software contract for digitizing meeting plans

The findings of a year-long search for software to manage the commissioners’ agenda was presented to the Worcester County Commissioners Tuesday, but fell flat because of the commissioners’ many unanswered question.

Departing Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Joseph Parker III told the commissioners he and his department had tried several solutions over several months in search for one to manage the county agendas online.

“We never quite found what we were looking for,” he said. “It was always good but never quite it.”

Parker, who was attending his last county commissioner meeting that day, said he continued his search until PrimeGov offered a test drive of its solution, which integrates well with a product from Swagit that the county already uses.

PrimeGov’s solution offers several different modules including agenda automation, meeting management, Swagit Integration, data migration for up to two years of content, additional data migration, and implementation of the product.

Parker presented a contract to the commissioners with a price tag of $18,673 for the first year and $15,173 plus a 5 percent annual increase for each subsequent year.

Though the project was not budgeted for FY23, Parker said it could be built into the budget as an over-expenditure.

“I believe this is absolutely what we need going forward,” he said.

Commissioner Jim Bunting, though, had many concerns about the software suite and what it could do. For example, Bunting said he preferred to have an agenda in print form, not just digital.

With the software, the agenda would be available in both forms, according to Parker.

But Bunting’s biggest hang-up with the software was it allows for public comment, whether the topic was discussed in open session or not.

Parker assured Bunting that the option could be toggled off or on, depending on what the commissioners decide. Parker also said there were about 50 different features that could be turned off or on, and the options could be tailored to fit the county’s needs.

Still, Bunting was hesitant to support the contract without knowing whether it would affect the public’s ability to comment.

Commissioner Chip Bertino raised concerns that the person who researched the software, Parker, was on his way out and questioned who would take over as the lead point.

Parker told Bertino he did the demo with members of the IT department and administrative office, so people are versed to a degree with the software. Whoever implements the software, though, would be starting at the ground floor.

“It’s a good time to do this,” Parker said. “It was beneficial to be able to tailor it … to keep it the way you currently run your meetings.”

Chief Administrative Officer Weston Young said he would be taking care of the agendas and the rollout of the new solution once Parker steps away. He also said he trusts Parker’s opinion of the agenda solution and it is a way to streamline efforts from 12 different internal agencies and multiple outside agencies. It is an ordeal, he said, and this will streamline and digitize all efforts.

With many questions about the solution still open, Parker was unable to get the project approved. Instead, the commissioners asked that it come back at a future date with answers to their questions.

This story appears in the Sept. 9, 2022 print edition of the OC Today.

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