Loudoun County goes 65 percent over budget upgrading its IT, must hire seven more people

Roger Zurn Jr., the treasurer of Loudoun County, said the county's cost overruns in its attempts to install new computer systems was "unprecedented." (Loudoun County) Roger Zurn Jr., the treasurer of Loudoun County, said the county’s cost overruns in its attempts to install new computer systems was “unprecedented.” (Loudoun County)

A slight problem has developed in Loudoun County’s attempt to upgrade the computer systems it uses for accounting, procurement, taxation and assessments: they’re way over budget. Historically over budget. Where the county originally had allocated $25 million to upgrade its computers, the cost now is $41 million, or about 65 percent more than promised.

The Post’s special correspondent Jim Barnes, who spent years working for Loudoun County, broke the story in Sunday’s paper. He spoke to Roger Zurn, the county’s longtime treasurer and a former supervisor, who said,“This is totally unprecedented.” Zurn said there was a problem a while back with the public safety radio system, but “Other than the infamous radios, there’s been nothing approaching this dollar amount, and these overruns.”

Zurn said the original estimate for the computer overhaul was too low. A previous overhaul of the computer system in the assessor’s office was also plagued by problems and took years to complete. The board of supervisors was troubled by the large overrun, but in the end they voted 7-1 to spend the additional money. Supervisor Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn) said the current system was being “held together with baling wire and duct tape,” and Supervisor Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles) said “at some point in time, you just have to pony up and upgrade your system.”

Speaking of Letourneau, last week he was elected president of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments corporation, the organization of more than 300 elected officials from pretty much every jurisdiction large and small in this region. The corporation is not the policy-making board of directors, which made news earlier this year when it passed and then rescinded a pro-gun control resolution. But Letourneau played a key role there as well, reminding officials from D.C. and Maryland (and the northern reaches of NoVa) that views on gun control differ around the region, and that COG should focus on issues where the region can work together, not argue.

Barnes’ story on the IT overrun is here.

Tom Jackman is a native of Northern Virginia and has been covering the region for The Post since 1998.

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