Cook County Board to Consider Further Technology Consolidation

February 2, 2018

Resolution would assess whether efficiencies, eliminating duplicative functions could be realized

The Cook County Board next Wednesday will consider a resolution calling for consolidation across the County of some Information Technology (IT) functions.

The resolution — sponsored by Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Commissioners John Daley, Sean Morrison and John Fritchey — would require all County agencies, including those of separately elected officials, with distinct IT operations and not currently under the control of the Chief Information Officer to collaboratively evaluate IT operations for duplication of functions and services.

IT functions at Cook County are currently only partially centralized. Services such as network and telecommunications support are centralized with the Bureau of Technology (BOT), which is an Office under President Preckwinkle. Other functions are managed by autonomous technology offices reporting to the County’s other elected or appointed officials: Assessor, Board of Review, Chief Judge, Clerk of the Circuit court, County Clerk, Forest Preserves, Health and Hospitals System, Recorder of Deeds, Sheriff, State’s Attorney and Treasurer. 

“The County cannot afford to continue the costly practice of having duplicative technology functions in each office,” Preckwinkle said. “In some cases, it will make sense for offices to retain certain specialized and unique technology functions, but many aspects of modern IT operations should be the same for any office at the County.” 

The resolution focuses on four areas: information security; help desks; data centers and server management; and default productivity and communications software, which means standard software used for such functions as word processing, spreadsheets, email and video conferencing. The resolution calls for “concrete and actionable recommendations” to be delivered to the Board within 120 days of the resolutions passage.

“Under President Preckwinkle, we have made significant strides towards more collaborative IT in the areas of cybersecurity, Countywide contracts and applications,” said County Chief Information Officer Simona Rollinson. “This resolution is an opportunity to find new ways, not only to be efficient, but to innovate.”

Other examples of consolidated technology systems that are in various states of installation and implementation include:

  • Integrated Justice System to connect the disparate systems of the Sheriff, Clerk of the Court, Chief Judge, State's Attorney and Public Defender;
  • Integrated Property System, bringing the County's agencies that deal with property taxation together under a unified system;
  • Enterprise Resource Planning, replacing the County's back-office financial and supply chain systems with a Countywide, unified modern system.

Efforts to evaluate consolidation began during the County Fiscal Year 2018 Budget process last year. At that time, the State’s Attorney agreed allow BOT to handle most of the functions listed in the new resolution.