Ann Arbor Council OKs Tech Agreements

Two technology agreements have been approved by the Ann Arbor city council – a three-way agreement with the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority and Washtenaw County, and another two-party contract with the city of Chelsea. Both agreements existed previously. The vote on agreements came at the council’s Feb. 4, 2013 meeting.

The three-way accord had been approved by the council on May 2, 2011. The agreement – an interagency agreement for collaborative technology and services (IACTS) – is meant to provide a way to procure and maintain common technology platforms and services centrally.

The modification to the agreement, approved by the city council on Feb. 4, allows for adding other entities into the agreement in a more streamlined way, by “giving each founding member the ability to approve a process to enable an administrative individual to sign on behalf of that founding member for purposes of this adding new participants.” Other members could thus be added without modifying the agreement itself. With the amendment, Ann Arbor’s process for adding a new participant would include simply the approval of the city administrator on recommendation of the IT director and chief financial officer.

According to city of Ann Arbor IT director Dan Rainey, responding to an emailed query, one of the entities interested in participating in the IACTS is the Washtenaw Intermediate School District.

In May 2011 – when the Ann Arbor city council approved the IACTS with AATA and Washtenaw County – the council was also asked to consider the approval of an agreement with Washtenaw County for data storage services and for backup services. At the May 2011 council meeting, Rainey explained the nature of the shared storage and shared backup – there will be one machine at city hall and one at the city’s Wheeler Center.

The topic of backup and disaster data recovery issues was identified as one area of minor concern in the city’s most recent audit in late 2012. In chief financial officer Tom Crawford’s response to the auditor’s note on that topic, he outlines how the city uses a “separation of risks” approach and has always been able to backup and recover data in individual computing environments. Crawford’s written response also describes the city’s current work to improve its disaster recovery plan in terms of the IACTS: “Because of the nature of our interdependences, the information technology departments of the city of Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County and the AATA are collaborating on developing a common disaster recovery plan. The current state of the plan is that all parties know what is being backed up, where it is stored and that there is the ability to recover backed up data on a small number of servers.” [.pdf of revised auditor's letter] [.pdf of Crawford's Jan. 24, 2013 response]

Responding to an emailed query, Washtenaw County IT manager Andy Brush explained that certain IT services are already provided by Washtenaw County to various entities – like the city of Ypsilanti, Dexter’s fire department, and the 14B District Court – although they aren’t yet parties to the IACTS agreement.

The agreement between Ann Arbor and the city of Chelsea, also approved by the council on Feb. 4, dates back to 2011. The council agreed to extend the agreement, under which Chelsea will pay the city of Ann Arbor up to $55,614 for the following services: helpdesk, management of the city’s website, server hosting, data backup and recovery, overseeing IT contractors, project management, and representing the city of Chelsea in regional technology efforts and meetings.

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow: [link]