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Software question should have been easy to answer

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I read an article in The News Messenger (Sept. 8 front page) about Chuck Schmidt. Mr. Schmidt resigned from the fiscal sustainability committee and the reason stated came after city staff “put up a roadblock” while he was trying to do research, according to Schmidt. Schmidt e-mailed Springbrook to see if the software program was cost-efficient for the city. Schmidt did not understand why city staff worked overtime on generating a salary and benefits report requested by a Lincoln City Councilman several months ago. Initially, I found it hard to believe that Mr. Schmidt was stonewalled by SpringBrook Software Inc. Regardless if his question was unique to any municipality, the vendor would, at a minimum, answer his questions on a general basis, which would protect their client’s privacy (and potentially create a new client). Apparently, the salary and benefits report referenced cost the city of Lincoln taxpayers $1,500 to generate, based on this article (lincolnnewsmessenger.com/detail/184285.html). What really shocked me was the city stated the report creation took 30 hours with 14.25 hours being overtime. As a result, I did a little research. What I found left me with more questions about how the city is being managed. At the city of Lincoln website is a document repository where I located the subscription agreement from 2002 between the city and the financial software vendor, Springbrook Software Inc. (http://ci.lincoln.ca.us/sire/cache/107/p5agh4yqiesdiu45kq4e2yeb/1870070912201105254236.pdf). In the agreement, the city purchased what was once known as Crystal Reports Professional, a software tool used to create custom presentation-quality reports from virtually any database and distribute them to desktop and Web users. I have worked in the information-technology field for 15 years and have used Crystal Reports and other tools to generate custom reports. I say, with 100 percent certainty, that it should have only taken city staff a maximum of one hour using Crystal Reports to generate the report that the city said took 30 hours. Even faster would have been to use a software tool such as Microsoft Excel, which would have taken a few minutes. I leave you to your own conclusions. Scott Glaser, Lincoln