Friday, July 13, 2012

Disaster Recovery Site: Has NYCERS Fixed the Problem?

Last week I received a copy of the NYCERS Administrative Budget for FY-2013.

In September, 2011, I commented on the five year delay in completing the NYCERS Long Island City (LIC) disaster recovery (DR) site.

Based on the NYCERS budget proposal for 2012-2013, the site is now “nearing” completion with a date sometime before June 30, 2013.

There continues to be an ongoing confusion about the completion of this project. On March 25, 2012 in response to a newspaper article about the five year delay in getting the LIC site operational Karen Mazza, the NYCERS legal director, stated that the site would be ready to open on April 1, 2012. Considering the history of this project we’ll need to see the certificate of occupancy before being sure that the site is open. Of course, having a fully functioning alternative site for all agency operations is a whole other story.

The rent for the LIC site for the coming year is $496,500.

In its FY-2013 budget NYCERS’s has increased its headcount to a total of 394 F/T and 25 P/T positions. In addition there are always a significant number of consultants working at NYCERS.

As per the budget document the DR site is projected to only support 150 people at any one time or 300 people using a two shift schedule. The certificate of occupancy and the FDNY inspection will actually determine the working capacity of the site.

The two shift schedule raises contract issues with the unions involved and creates serious hardships for employees stuck with off hours schedules. It also leaves a problem for the remaining 94 employees and consultants and their associated work.

Part of the long delayed plan is to install a second mainframe at LIC with the idea of ending the use of the IBM DR site at Sterling Forest, NY.

This is fundamentally a bad idea. The elimination of the Sterling Forest site means that NYCERS will lose flexibility in its ability to respond to unknown disasters. It also creates personnel, management, and cost challenges in keeping the LIC mainframe in synch with the Adams Street machine. NYCERS is a relatively small organization which needs to avoid high overhead and to leverage its skills with the use of the Sterling Forest site.

Prior to 2005 NYCERS had an IT expert as the executive director. The current executive director has no business experience prior to 2005. This makes NYCERS very susceptible to “pie in the sky” schemes as evidenced by the six year delay in getting this project off the ground.

As per the budget document, NYCERS is also planning to move its document management, training, and IT testing/backup functions to this site.

It is not clear what NYCERS will do with its modern training center at Adams Street. Adams Street is the site where all NYCERS employees are currently working. It is clearly a more efficient site to train employees than LIC.

Moving document management to Long Island City will only create delays in agency functions and increase the difficulty in controlling documents that arrive at Adams Street and then will have to be transported to LIC site for processing.

The current offsite record storage at Bergen Street will be moved to the DR site. This was a pre-2005 concept. I wonder how it survived.