San Francisco is a center of tech innovation, but The City’s own technology wastes taxpayer money and hampers governmental operations, according to numerous reports. The question now is whether any of those studies will lead to improvements.
On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors considered the latest such report — a civil grand jury report titled Déjà Vu All Over Again: San Francisco’s City Technology Needs a Culture Shock. But judging by the contrasting responses to the report from the board and Mayor Ed Lee, there is a lack of agreement regarding The City’s tech situation and the path toward improvement.
Lee has quarreled with many of the report’s findings, among them the conclusion that The City wastes money and duplicates efforts by allowing a department-by-department approach to similar tech functions.
Meanwhile, the board agreed with more of the report’s findings, including that, “There is a scarcity of consolidated citywide data in the technology arena, separate from departmental budgets.”
“Everyone agrees on what we should do, and then projects take four, six, 15 years, millions of dollars over budget to get done,” Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, the most vocal critic of The City’s technology failings, said during a recent committee hearing. “I’m frankly a little frustrated and tired of that.”
The civil grand jury report recommended a number of changes for The City’s IT chain-of-command, including having departmental chief information officers report not just to their respective department’s bosses but also to a main citywide chief intelligence officer. Lee said he would not implement this change, but the Board of Supervisors has requested an evaluation of the proposal by Feb. 2.
The civil grand jury report puts the onus of turning around San Francisco’s tech mess on the mayor, saying it would take leadership from The City’s CEO to change the IT culture. The report urged Lee to “provide consistent, passionate, and aggressive leadership in the field of citywide technology, fostering progress, and garnering agreement among departments toward a more cooperative and cohesive culture.”
Lee said this recommendation has already been implemented.
Not so, according to Chiu. “I’d like to state that I hope that that will be implemented over the next six months,” he said last week.