2015-10-30 / Community

Kennebunkport picks new IT vendor

By Duke Harrington Staff Writer

KENNEBUNKPORT — Taxpayers in Kennebunkport will soon pay more to maintain the town’s computer network, but officials say the price is worth the increase in service.

Previously, the town relied on York County government to look after its internet technology and resolve any issues. That contract, which Town Manager Laurie Smith termed a “limited support agreement,” cost Kennebunkport $23,000 per year. However, Smith has called the services received “a Band-Aid fix.”

“Although the contract is inexpensive in comparison to other vendors, it is not effective,” Smith wrote in an Oct. 19 memo to selectmen. “Oftentimes, departments are left for days or weeks without the ability to resolve issues.”

Kennebunkport’s computer network is not large. According to Smith, it amounts to 39 desktop computers and six mobile police units, connecting 10 departments through seven servers.

The town solicited vendors to manage the town’s IT network and migrate town email accounts from Virtual Town Hall to Microsoft Outlook, while also updating all desktops to the standard suite of Microsoft Office programs.

At their Oct. 22 meeting, selectmen awarded a contract for management of IT services to Burgess Computing of Bath, at an annual cost of $34,752.

“This is a change compared to what we have been spending,” Smith told selectmen, adding she “certainly could make this work,” for the balance of the current fiscal year.

“I just want to make sure people are aware this would be an increase in next year’s budget,” she said, “but it is a much more managed approach.”

“A managed approach to technology is something I strongly endorse,” Selectman Stuart Barwise said.

Board chairman Sheila Matthews-Bull agreed, citing hacking concerns under the previous arrangement. In that regard, Smith said, the new deal may come just in time.

“I don’t want to go into details because of our own security, but I thank goodness every day that we don’t have an issue develop,” she said.

A four-person committee recommended Burges over two other vendors, both of which submitted nominally lower bids.

Portland based WinXnet bid $29,208, but that only included system monitoring. Actual assistance with issues, both remotely and on-site, would have cost $54,000. Meanwhile, Systems Engineering, also of Portland, bid $31,972, but that only included monitoring and resolving issues with the town’s internet servers, not its desktop machines.

The Burgess bid includes the entire network, as well a weekly on-site visit, Smith said in an Oct. 26 email.

Smith said one other factor tipping the scales in Burgess’ favor was the company’s greater familiarity with software systems used by the police department to manage all calls and complaints, and to report data to state and federal governments.

“Burgess Computer has a solid background in that, whereas Systems Engineering did not give us that same comfort level,” Smith said.

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