Get rid of PeopleSoft and the excuses disappear

Opinion

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Catherine Smith, One View

This isn't about politics, it is about public trust and the fact that none of our checks and balances worked in this case, including this newspaper. No one is willing to ask tough questions, and if you're not willing to do that, you shouldn't be on a village board, no matter the political party. 

At a Jan. 12 meeting, Village Chief Financial Officer Craig Lesner admitted there are finance employees who do not even know how to auto sum or auto filter in Microsoft Excel , and that lots of data never ended up in PeopleSoft! You can't get out of a program what isn't put in. Everyone wants to continually blame PeopleSoft instead of looking at the culture of the finance department. Lesner has known this about his department for some time now, so for all we know he paid $125 an hour for a very high-priced data entry clerk. One look at the invoices from JCG Corp. and you see that there is absolutely no detail: no record of what "project" she worked on and no detail of what she accomplished or who she dealt with. There are just lists of hours she supposedly worked for each two-week period. Each two invoices consistently added up to somewhere under $25,000 but made no mention of, nor were divided up by, any "project." 

An experienced business consultant should have been able to figure out the problems inside this department and PeopleSoft within the first few thousand dollars of a gap analysis and should have told the village that PeopleSoft can't turn out what it doesn't have entered in it, or that employees who are so unfamiliar with how to use computer software have been a large part of the problem. If this consultant really closed the gaps and did the great job Lesner claims, then why couldn't he generate a single accurate and comprehensive PeopleSoft report for trustees throughout the entire budget session last fall? A very telling sign is that the printout listing all JCG Corp. invoices and totals was done in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and given to the board Jan. 12. That, my dear taxpayer, is not closing a gap!  

Perhaps continuing to spend money on PeopleSoft was a way to keep the ready-made excuse alive for why the village doesn't have its finances in order. Think about the hidden millions in deficits for the parking fund, filings not done on time, people being paid double or triple on an invoice, shortfalls in the end of 2008, and the village being behind in TIF fund payments to other taxing bodies. And oops, we don't have any money in our reserve cash fund! How about the battle now between the village and the library about money owed for maintaining the library garage? Did the village "ignore" years of back dollars for the garage as Trustee Ray Johnson now claims or were the finances so bad at village hall that they didn't even know this wasn't paid for years? If you don't keep PeopleSoft alive, then you lose your convenient excuse for apparently everything.

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