Mayor Sebastian Giuliano confirmed Tuesday that a computer server failure in the Water and Sewer department caused the loss of customer billing data, some of which was not stored on a backup server.
The Eye has fielded complaints from residents who were not able to have billing disputes resolved because of the lost data.
"It's my understanding that we haven't had an irretrievable loss of data," the mayor said. "Most of the recent data has been recovered through searches in files on other servers. But we do have some data older that five years that has been completely lost."
The mayor explained that the older data can be recovered because paper files are still available for most of those records.
Giuliano admitted that he was angry about the loss of data, but had not considered relieving IT Director Bill Oliver from his post.
"I'm not interested in getting rid of anyone," Giuliano said. "It's more a matter of deciding whether we are an operation which is simply an electronic repair service, or if we are going to bring city hall to a new place when it comes to IT operations. Bill has a very small staff, and because he spends most of his time chasing down problems with current hardware and software, it's impossible for him to have the time to consider the bigger picture."
"We're still operating the way we did 200 years ago," Giuliano complained. "We carry stacks of documents from office to office. Some of our funtions are automated, but they're of the simple 'fill-in-the-blank and send' variety. We need to transform the way we do business as a municipality, and IT is a big part of that. We operate in a technological society, but we are using archaic processes."
Giuliano indicated that he would like to consider a restructuring of the department so that all maintenance and upgrade issues are covered, but so that more visionary approaches could be considered for municipal technology issues.
"If it means we have to hire an uber-IT director, then so be it," Giuliano said. "I'm hopeful that our Council members will consider what we need to work as an efficient municipality in the future."