SAP debate leads to new round of proposals

April 09, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

Imperial Irrigation District Director Rudy Maldonado wants to see the district water department freed from all costs associated with the SAP computer system, stating the system is an open wound that needs to be treated.

On Tuesday Maldonado will suggest the IID board consider acquiring a computer system for water, a move that would force the power department to cover the cost of the controversial SAP system. Director Bruce Kuhn plans to make similar request.

The public session of the board's meeting is set for 5 p.m. Tuesday in the IID auditorium at 1285 Broadway in El Centro.

Maldonado said this morning his idea is not to place millions of dollars in costs on power customers.

He said the board would have to look at making cuts to alleviate any cost increases the power side might face in covering the cost of SAP.


Maldonado said it is clear the SAP system has not worked for the water department and it is time to make changes.

"For way over a year and a half we have heard a lot of complaints and they have not dissipated," Maldonado said. "They have compounded and grown worse."

He added problems tied to SAP have led to more costs, a problem he said trickles down to water and power users.

"It's not just a problem for farmers; it is a problem for electricity rate-payers," he said. "We need to stop the bleeding. It is not getting better."

The action sought by Maldonado comes two weeks after the board approved by a 3-2 vote having the water and power departments pay a 76/24 split of all computer system costs.

That means the power side will pay 76 percent while the water department will pay 24 percent, an amount equal to the use each department gets from the computer systems, according to IID staffers.

The decision was approved by board President Andy Horne and Director Stella Mendoza along with Maldonado. Directors Kuhn and Lloyd Allen voted against that split.

The issue over the computer systems, and more specifically the SAP system, dates back to the late 1990s. That is when the district purchased the SAP system, a software program brought in, according to IID records, to help in the wake of power deregulation.

At the time SAP was purchased it was decided the power side would pay 90 percent and the water department would pay 10 percent.

Since then IID has formed an information technology department to manage all computer systems.

The SAP system has been a sticking point for the farming community because members say SAP has been plagued by problems and has not met the needs of the farming community. Farmers have asked the district to do an efficiency study, one that would look into the computer systems.

The agricultural community was outraged by the board action two weeks ago that called on the water department to pay 24 percent of all computer costs. The board did say the water side would pay only 10 percent of SAP costs.

Still, the action led the Imperial Valley Vegetable Growers Association returning a vote of no confidence in the IID board last week. The Imperial County Farm Bureau is considering such a vote of no confidence.

Maldonado said his vote was merely meant to create more dialogue. He said now the board can consider removing water from SAP and bringing in another computer system.

Kuhn, who voiced anger at the 76/24 split, will call for action during Tuesday's meeting.

Kuhn, according to the agenda, wants staff to suspend all purchases through the information technology department until a final determination is made on the water department acquiring its own computer system.

Horne said this morning the board needs to take into account there would be additional costs to purchase a new system. He said it would take time to implement such a system and there would be "bugs" to work out.

He said now is the time to look at whether SAP can function the way it was meant to for water and power.

In light of the computer system debate, Kuhn wants the board to review the idea of an efficiency study.

Earlier this year the board said it would not consider such a study until June. The study would cost $600,000 to $1 million.

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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