The Board of Selectmen approved the contract on Monday.
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The town is contracting with the Hampshire County Council of Governments to overhaul its computer systems.
On Monday, the Board of Selectmen approved signing the contract and set aside $12,000 to bring the council in to oversee the technology.
Town Administrator Paul Sieloff said there is flexibility in the number of hours in the contract. He hopes to have the consultants be very active to begin with and then lower the amount of time.
"My thought is initially take a higher amount of hours," Sieloff said, and cited the need for a "comprehensive" audit and management of the town's systems. "We have issues with our networking, data backup and recovery, antivirus and possibly changing our email service, repairs and troubleshooting, firewalls."
Voters had previously allocated $25,000 for IT services with the idea of hiring someone to begin the process. However, the need for updated software in various departments and information control was too worrisome for Sieloff to feel confident with the system as is.
"There has been a big push in Berkshire County. The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission held a meeting where they brought in a number of the towns to talk about 'what are we going to do with this because we know the majority of smaller towns are not managing this properly' and they are concerned about this," Sieloff said.
Some $20,000 worth of software for the accounting office is currently on hold until the systems can be fully looked at, Sieloff said.
The town's systems — in Town Hall, the Police Department and the Highway Department — will have be vetted and monitored by Hampshire's subcontractors. The consultants will present best practices and advice on how to make a more efficient and secure system, Sieloff said.
Further, the consultants, with a staff of 15, will monitor the systems more than anyone internally can currently do and there will be a specific point person for the town. Additionally, the service includes troubleshooting assistance if and when a system crashes.
"The main benefit is a comprehensive management of our IT," Sieloff said.
Not only will the overhaul provide insight on types of programming but with the Massachusetts Broadband Institute in the process of installing fiber wire to town buildings, suggestions can be made to capitalize on that, Sieloff said.
After getting a handle on the town's systems, Sieloff hopes to be able to find ways to share services with other entities such as Mount Greylock Regional High School.
Sieloff said he is considering having the consultants there about 12 hours a month but there is flexibility that he will monitor to see what is needed.
"It seems like a lot of money I know just in a small office, if we have a failure we struggle to get things running again," Chairman John Goerlach said.
If all goes to plan, Sieloff said he could end up suggesting setting aside less money for IT services in the next budget.