May 24, 2018
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Critique: Outsource tech, cleaning

By Heather Steeves, BDN Staff

ROCKLAND, Maine — An independent study on Knox County found that the county’s departments are doing all right, with only two departments that need major restructuring: information technology, or IT, and building maintenance. The firm that wrote the report recommended outsourcing those departments’ work.

In the 66-page report, Municipal Resources Inc. — the company that was paid $48,000 to perform the evaluation — stated that comparative Maine counties have one IT person to about every 100 workers. Knox County has one IT person for every 35 workers. The report, which company representatives presented to the Knox County commissioners on Wednesday — asked that the county eliminate IT and outsource the work.

“Many municipalities and private organizations of similar network size as Knox County outsource all of their IT services for less than half of the cost of Knox County’s current IT operation,” according to the report.

The study further criticized the department, stating there was a lack of security for files, no system to back up files, no training offered to staff and that IT is monitoring county employees’ Web browsing histories, which the study argues is not IT’s job.

The other department that got the most scrutiny was building maintenance, which the study said is not cost-effective.

Municipal Resources Inc. wrote that the workers clean offices during the day, which the company said is inefficient, that buildings are not as clean as they should be, that there is a lack of documentation about what work is being done and that it is unclear which workers have security codes and keys for buildings.

Despite these suggestions, Andrew Gilmore, who helped conduct the study, said, “General operations are in good shape.”

The study suggested eliminating two IT positions, four building maintenance jobs and one deeds office position — or to share positions in IT and maintenance with the school system. Additionally, the report recommends adding staff to the emergency management agency, the finance department and the airport.

Perhaps one of the harder-to-implement changes is a recommendation to move the sheriff’s office into a new building and to leave the 911 call center and the emergency management agency in the old building. The study found that both the 911 call center and the sheriff’s office need more room — the two now are housed together.

The Knox County commissioners will meet 1-4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 27, to discuss the next steps of implementing the recommendations.

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