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After 12 months, Austin Energy’s software contract needs a 50% increase

Wednesday, July 18, 2018 by Jessi Devenyns

After entering into a $12 million software contract with Sirius Computer Solutions Inc. in May of last year, Austin Energy returned to the Electric Utility Commission at its July 16 meeting to ask for an increase of $5,898,463, for a revised contract amount not to exceed $18,225,143. “A little after 12 months later you come back for a 50 percent increase,” said a seemingly shocked Commissioner Jim Boyle. The financial increase will not add any time to the three-year contract; it is only to add additional software licenses. Which licenses the utility specifically required were in question. “I hear the kind of ‘we need it real bad’ kind of thing, but we’re not getting a whole lot of specifics,” said Boyle. In an effort to offer more specificity to the request, Austin Energy Chief Information Officer Mercedes Sanchez broadly broke down the license expenditures that were rolled up into the almost $6 million ask. She also explained the reason that Austin Energy needs more funding is that when an audit was done last year, the utility company discovered that they had over-deployed some of their software licenses, which was not something they had accounted for in their original contract. “Why wasn’t this foreseen in the original contract?” asked Commissioner Karen Hadden. The dissatisfied commission asked Austin Energy staff to return next month with a more detailed breakdown of their expenses as well as the amount of money that has already been spent before it votes on the approval of the contract.

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