Luzerne County Controller Walter Griffith is issuing alarms over the county’s switch to a new financial software system, but the administration insists everything is under control.
The new $1.28 million system from Michigan-based New World Systems Corp. was supposed to be operational Monday but was still not accessible to employees Tuesday afternoon.
Griffith said there was no backup because the administration chose to end the county’s contract with the previous software supplier — ACS Government Systems Inc. — effective June 30.
The software system processes and tracks county payments and receipts.
Without an operational system, employees were unable to record and look up financial data, transfer funds and execute purchase orders on Monday and Tuesday, Griffith said. “We can’t conduct business. The county is without a financial system, and I don’t think that’s a good place to be,” Griffith said Tuesday afternoon.
County senior accountant Brian Swetz, the interim budget and finance division head director, said the merging of data into the new system was taking longer than anticipated. Swetz said the administration and New World representatives were working feverishly to load and verify the converted information.
“I want to make sure all data is correct before employees can look at it and use the system,” Swetz said.
Swetz stressed a plan was in place to allow workers to continue issuing checks and collecting payments during conversion. “If a bill is due, we are paying it,” he said. “Money is being received and going to the bank. Services to the general public are still being taken care of.”
Employees also have no idea how to use the new system, including workers who process purchase orders and checks, Griffith asserts. He said select workers were supposed to be certified as trainers before the system went live.
“We did not do training. New World is obligated to handle that,” Griffith said.
Swetz said initial training has been conducted for some workers, and intense sessions are planned once the system is up and running.
Lawton: Training coming
County Manager Robert Lawton said training will be a priority because the new system is more user-friendly for tracking data and generating reports.
“We had a core of people who used the old system on a regular basis. Our goal with New World is to enlarge that group and empower staff to be greater participants in monitoring and managing budgets,” Lawton said.
Griffith said he supports the new system but believes the administration is jumping the gun to meet the implementation schedule promised to council. Council approved the contract with New World in October, and Griffith pointed to a letter from the previous software company estimating conversion to a new system would take at least 18 months in a county the size of Luzerne.
ACS would have charged about $34,000 per month to keep its system operational during the conversion, Griffith said.
“Now I have no way to know if the new system is accurate because we no longer have the old system to compare it to,” the controller said.