The purchase of a software package for $60,000 by the Camden County Commission that was questioned in 2011 is making its way back into the news.
The county has severed their agreement with the company that provided the software and technical support and has withheld the last $7,000 payment.
In 2011, the bid was awarded to HCPS Software, a company based in Licking, Mo.
HCPS was the only company of the two solicited by the county to submit a bid on time. One of the owners of the company was a well-known name in Republican campaign circles during the 2010 elections.
The purchase was questioned by the Lake Sun after issues were raised about the bidding process and the relationship between the Presiding Commissioner Kris Franken and one of the owners of the company.
At the time, county officials defended the purchase of the software for payroll, purchasing, accounts payable and receivable but less than two years later, they have decided it makes more sense for the IT department to handle it.
Franken, who along with Camden County Clerk Rowland Todd spearheaded the purchase, said the reason Camden County ended the contractual agreement with HCPS is because since the agreement was signed, "we have hired new talent in our Information Technology Department that is capable of doing the same kind of work."
As the IT department was analyzing the way the purchasing, accounts receivable, accounts payable portion of the program was structured, they identified several ways that they thought they could improve on the original design, according to Franken.
"After discussion, we decided that if we could save some money from the original agreement that we should get out of the contract and proceed internally and realize the cost savings while producing a more focused product." he said. "It is not uncommon to realize ways to improve a project and focus it on your specific needs once it has begun and to pursue that direction if the opportunity exists."
As far as the payroll system is concerned, Franken said he felt there are some issues that need clarification.
According to him, the previous company that the county paid monthly to administer payroll, had major errors every pay period with regard to accruals of leave and benefits, and often had errors on check amounts.
"This is the issue that prompted the county clerk to look into this project, and it also gave us the opportunity to put the payroll, purchasing, accounts payable and accounts receivable all on the same platform and also allow us to go virtually paperless," he said. "Even in large private companies, issues arise when you have a complex payroll system that has so many potential deductions and accrual rates based on elective choices and time in service. The HCPS system, while not perfect, has improved the situation."
Page 2 of 2 - Franken said even though the county terminated the contract, they continued to provide support for the payroll system when needed.
Associate Commissioner Cliff Luber said problems with the software and complaints from employees using the program lead to the county's decision.
"Statements ranged from not being user friendly, to they didn't think it could do what was promised," Luber said.
Members of the commission at the time of the purchase were Kris Franken, Bev Thomas and Thom Gumm.