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Voting Yes on Article 18

Article 18 comes to a vote tomorrow (Monday) at Town Meeting. I’m going to be voting yes, I encourage my fellow meeting members to vote yes, and I hope voters encourage their representatives to vote yes.

You can read the text of the vote in the Selectmen’s supplemental report. It moves the town function of “data processing” out from under the Comptroller and to under the Town Manager. It renames the group to be “Information Technology.” Most importantly, it permits the town and schools to merge common IT functions. (It also permits the schools to independently maintain academic computing, i.e. the software that is part of the classroom.)

This change will make a big difference in the long run.

When the town created the Data Processing department, almost all of the computing was done in the town’s accounting function. It made sense to put the department with the accounting. Today, the computer is ubiquitous within the town. It’s in every office and on almost every desk. The job function, the computer work, has outgrown the accounting group.

The United States has enjoyed huge increases in productivity over the last several years. A given worker has been been able to get more done. Most of that is because they have been able to take advantage of information technology.

Proposition 2.5 limits the town’s financial resources. When costs go up faster than revenues, the two obvious choices are to cut costs or to increase revenues (raise taxes). There is a third option that is less obvious: become more productive. If the town can increase productivity fast enough, it can deliver the same services it has in the past without raising taxes. Of course, it isn’t east. It requires work and careful planning.

Creating the IT group gives the IT function a level of visibility that it hasn’t had in the town thus far. It opens up the possibility of finding and exploiting the opportunities to increase productivity. And, of course, merging the school IT creates opportunities to buy and maintain IT services with greater cost efficiencies.

Please vote yes on Article 18.


Comment from Bob Sprague
Time: May 14, 2007, 6:44 am

I will be voting yes on Article 18, and I encourage other Town Meeting members to do so.