The county’s IT deficit
The audit of Mesa County’s Information Technology Department — made public last week after The Daily Sentinel filed a Freedom of Information request for the report — contained no great surprises. Rather, it offered a litany of problems that have accumulated and magnified over the years.
As a security breach last year demonstrated, it is critical that the Mesa County commissioners address these problems or the consequences may be severe. To their credit, the commissioners took the first step by hiring the consultant to perform the audit.
The IT deficiencies last year resulted in the unfortunate release of sensitive information, such as the names of Sheriff’s Department confidential informants and emails about crime victims after they were mistakenly posted to an unsecure county website.
Some of the problems with the IT Department are budgetary — aging equipment and unfilled positions. That should come as no surprise when the county has been making cuts across the board.
As the county’s revenue improves, that should change. A new director is expected to be hired this summer.
But other deficiencies listed in the report are indicative more of official neglect than financial limitations.
The report listed a lack of executive leadership and long-term IT strategy among the problems. Perhaps most disturbing were the skill gaps found among IT personnel, especially on security issues.
Compounding those problems is an absence of training at all levels of the department. In the rapidly changing world of computer technology, continuous training is critical.
Today, IT departments function as a sort of central nervous system in the governmental body. When things go wrong with that central system, it affects the entire organism.
Understanding that budgetary constraints remain, the county must do its utmost to alleviate the problems outlined in the report, especially the leadership, training and security issues.