West Linn continues to outsource its information technology needs

After a successful trial run since July of 2012, West Linn will continue to outsource its information technology (IT) services to Polar Systems Inc.

The city council voted unanimously on Monday to approve signing a contract with West Linn-based Polar Systems for its chief information officer (CIO) services, the latest step in an ongoing effort to streamline the city’s IT spending.

Where in past years West Linn spent $160,000 on its in-house IT services, the contract with Polar Systems will cost $120,000 per year.

In general, the CIO serves as a de facto IT director, fulfilling both day-to-day and long-term needs while also providing IT representation at public and private forums, managing the city’s technological resources and establishing basic performance metrics.

With this newest contract, Polar Systems’ Shane Boyle will continue as West Linn’s CIO, according to Assistant City Manager Kirsten Wyatt.

“We have seen noticeable, positive changes in our IT department,” Wyatt said, “most specifically, the role that a true chief information officer plays on our team. Right now we have a true member of our team, even if he’s not technically a city of West Linn staff person.”

Wyatt cited the ongoing police station project as an example of this.

Where the city once assumed it would have to bring in outside consultants for the IT side of construction, Boyle and Polar Systems filled that role instead.

The city council expressed few concerns over the proposed contract, though Councilor Jody Carson did ask how Polar Systems’ performance would be evaluated over time.

To that, Wyatt said the CIO would be treated like a member of the in-house staff in that regard.

There will be a formal performance evaluation each year, and city staff members will also consult weekly with Boyle on individual projects.

“Fundamentally, from a contract review basis, we’ll be making sure we do a formal evaluation each year as we would an in-house employee,” Wyatt said.

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