Embracing New Technologies Expected to Improve Services, Save Millions in Cook County

Cook County will be taking significant steps toward replacing antiquated technologies, streamlining services and reducing costs by millions under two proposals approved by the Cook County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday.

An Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) business management platform will offer greatly improved reliability by replacing multiple old back-end administrative systems while a new Integrated Tax Processing System will modernize the administration of Cook County home rule taxes by providing a number of state-of-the-art features such as online return filing, self-registration and independent account maintenance.

This effort is bringing the County into the 21st century and can save millions of dollars each year, Preckwinkle said. We currently utilize multiple legacy platforms, many of which are at the end of their useful lives, posing enormous risk to critical County operations. Upon successful implementation, we will be able to improve performance and offer better service to constituents and employees.

The Board on Wednesday approved a five-year, $66.5 million contract to IBM for system integration and managed services for the County to utilize Oracle E-Business Suite ERP software. Upon successful implementation, the platform is expected to retire up to eight outmoded systems and save the County millions of dollars annually through centralizing supply chain data (such as information about materials and vendors) to reduce inventory expenses and increase automation.

Replacing out-of-date systems unable to keep pace with technological advances will allow for process improvements, best practices, streamlined workflows and real-time analytics for finance and human resources functions across all County agencies.

Put simply, much of the County's back-end processes have not changed since the 1970's and reflect paper-based manual processes that must change and evolve, Preckwinkle said.

An $11 million contract to implement the Integrated Tax Processing System also passed by the Board will allow taxpayers to register, file returns, and pay their taxes within a single application. Staff from the County's Department of Revenue (DOR) will in turn have the capability to conduct tax discovery audits, investigations and collection activities in an integrated and seamless manner.

This automation will also lead to greater compliance by existing taxpayers, which in turn will maximize revenues and place all taxpayers on a level playing field, while improving ease of use for the taxpaying public.

DOR currently utilizes an archaic mainframe and various other stand-alone databases running on different platforms to administer home rule taxes, such as those levied on alcohol, tobacco and parking. DOR projects an increase in revenue across all tax types of between $3 million and $6 million in the first year of implementation with an annual increase of 2%.

These are essential purchases to keep up with the times, reduce costs in the long-run and improve efficiency, Preckwinkle added. Through these projects we can modernize County government, improve collaboration and productivity to deliver services more rapidly, and gain efficiencies throughout the County.