October 18, 2012
When people ask me to describe MHIS I often start with “MHIS is a ten year-old experiment in joint government.” In the spring of 2002 then City Manager Al Ilg proposed merging the City’s Information Services department with the Hartford Public Schools’ Information Technology department, with the goals of saving money and providing better service. The idea took flight, and in April of ’02 the Court of Common Council and the Board of Education voted to approve the merger.
Also cooking in 2002 was the City’s “Adrian’s Landing” project, which brought the City its convention center, a new hotel, and the ConnecticutScienceCenter. The project’s footprint also included the old Hartford Times building, then owed by the City and used for office space. In early July the City vacated the Times building, taking up residence in ConstitutionPlaza. With the move, the two halves of MHIS came together in one space for the first time.
We have been together ever since. From the outset we (those of us on the management team, starting with Michael Vasquenza, the first CIO) took to heart the idea that MHIS was a unified entity. Our staff is made up of City and HPS employees; both groups work on City and school system projects. This approach also appears technologically with a unified financial system, a single user directory system, and a single email system.
The ride has not always been easy. One or the other of our sponsors has faced budget troubles. Our budget is smaller and our staff is leaner in 2012 than either were in 2002. While, our base of users is larger, with more PCs and laptops, and flocks of new devices completely unknown when MHIS was created. We have truly figured out how to do more with less.
It is tempting to say that MHIS is a done deal. The idea for unified technology functions in the city dates back to at least 1996 and the Operational Audit report that recommended the City and schools move onto a single functional system. However, as leaders come and go and resources and priorities shift, there is constant tension between the two organizations that created us. Thus, I say that we are an experiment—ongoing, often challenging, never dull, and effective, interesting, and always moving forward.
Metro Hartford Information Services
260 Constitution Plaza
Hartford, CT 06103
Phone: (860) 757-9495
Fax: (860) 722-6014
7:00am - 5:00pm