City Hopes to Update 'User-Unfriendly' Budget Software

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Berkeley's aging budget management system, first implemented 16 years ago and now riddled with security issues, is in dire need of updating, council members say.

Council members requested a status update regarding the replacement of the system's software, called FUND$, from the city manager's office at Tuesday night's council meeting.

The city first implemented the system in 1994, and it has since frustrated many city employees with its lack of modern functionality and security features, according to multiple council members.

"It's antique, it's historic," said Councilmember Gordon Wozniak.

But the city has been hesitant to update the system due to an estimated $10 million price tag, according to a proposal supported by councilmembers Wozniak, Susan Wengraf, Darryl Moore and Laurie Capitelli.

The city currently faces a $12.2 million budget shortfall for the fiscal year, and council members are uncertain about how to fund the replacement system.

"It's a little expensive," Wozniak said. "We have to figure out how to finance it and what the payback will be. But at some point, we have to come up with the money because the result of not updating the system could be terrible."

City Auditor Ann-Marie Hogan said she has been trying to change the city's system since 2004 due to security flaws that fail to monitor user access and changes to financial data.

"The reason you have to know what access everyone has is they can commit fraud if they have a particular kind of access," she said.

Wengraf said the system is also "notoriously user-unfriendly."

"I don't even use it anymore," she said.

Wozniak said he is frustrated with the system because only a very small number of people understand how to use it.

"The average manager should be able to know every day where they are with their costs, budgets and funds, and with this system you can't do that," he said. "We have to use a separate (Microsoft) Excel sheet in order to figure out our own budget because FUND$ is so unreliable."

However, not every city employee said the system was completely user-unfriendly.

"I do encounter some problems, but just like with any other software, it's a learning craft," said Marvin Tam, an accounting manager with the city's finance department. "Generally, I am happy with the software."


Contact Katrina Escudero at [email protected]

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