Aspen, Pitkin County split IT departments
Ryan Summerlin May 11, 2014
The city of Aspen and Pitkin County are splitting into two information-technology departments after working together as one department for more than 20 years.
In February, the county gave one year’s notice that it wants to establish its own department, and with the move, the future of three city positions is uncertain. There are 11 positions in the current IT structure. The county will create three geographic-information-system positions, and another three, on the city side, will be dependent on 2015 budget decisions.
“Those positions may go away because half the PCs that we support are going away,” city Finance Director Don Taylor said. “It’ll be part of our budget process. It’s possible they may stay. It’s a budget decision.”
To make up for the positions departing for the county, the city will look to hire one geographic-information-system specialist, Taylor said.
County Manager Jon Peacock said the decision was made to keep up with the direction of technology in the public sector.
“It has become more ubiquitous in our organizations,” he said. “Everyone is using technology, and it’s become more significant for all our core functions.”
In the fall, the county hired Chief Technology Officer John Loyd, who has been overseeing the transition. With him, Peacock said, they have explored a number of options, including the potential for future collaboration between the city and county.
The county currently is fielding bids for IT services so it can analyze service levels and costs associated with the possibility of outsourcing. After all bids have been received, the county plans to sit down with city staff and discuss options.
“We’re either going to outsource or build our own capacity within the organization,” Peacock said. “But these are areas where we think we should talk because we think there is maybe mutual benefit to sharing infrastructure and employees.”
Right now, Peacock said, the county manages about 75 to 80 percent of geographic-information-system duties. The intent is to retain the three geographic-information-system specialists, but “we still need to have the discussion with the employees about whether they’re wanting to come over into the county system,” he said.
Peacock called the move part of the natural evolution of technology and how it has become more prominent.
“I think it’s pretty natural evolution for organizations to build their own capacity and integrate information technology more into their day-to-day operations,” he said. “So I think this is a natural progression for us to get more flexibility to do that.”