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Dorothy Brown's case-management plan advances after earlier trust questions

Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Chicago Tribune
by Hal Dardick

Cook County commissioners on Tuesday advanced Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown's plan to spend $36.5 million to install a new case-management system, after she agreed to hire an additional company to oversee the project at the request of distrustful commissioners.

Commissioners last month had balked at approving the contract, with Larry Suffredin, D-Evanston, describing Brown's office as one whose "reputation is not at the highest level right now."

Since then, Brown agreed to seek bids for a second company to help oversee installation of a new case-management system to replace one that's based on outdated mainframe technology. The additional contract is expected to add more than $1 million to the cost.

"That seemed reasonable to me, to protect a $36 million investment," Suffredin said. "For me, it's because I do not trust Dorothy Brown's staff."

On Tuesday, the County Board Finance Committee voted unanimously to approve a five-year contract with Plano, Texas-based Tyler Technologies to set up the new system. The move clears the way for a final board vote on Wednesday.

Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who last month spoke in favor of the Tyler Technologies contract, supports hiring the oversight company, said spokesman Frank Shuftan. "It is a best practice in large government tech projects," he said.

No matter how well the computer system conversion goes, there is concern about how efficiently it will be used by Brown's staff. She has long faced criticism for the state of court records. Preckwinkle said last month that "we're working to address concerns about user error." The contract with Tyler includes two other companies that will provide training and convert data for the new system.

Brown last year was elected to a fifth term in office, even after the county Democratic Party withdrew its endorsement after details surfaced about a U.S. attorney's investigation into allegations that bribes were being paid for jobs and promotions in her office.

Twitter @ReporterHal

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