Back in August, I blogged about Project Ocean, a major implementation meltdown on a City of Philadelphia project. The project was suspended amid allegations of incompetence, politics, and corruption.
According to ComputerWorld, the project is now restarting:
Philadelphia officials announced [September 6, 2006] an agreement in principle with Oracle Corp. to restart a suspended water-billing system initiative called Project Ocean at no extra cost to the city.
An amended contract between the city and Oracle calls for additional off-the-shelf utility billing software, said City Solicitor Romulo Diaz Jr.
“We’ll have the functionality that the city requires and be able to meet budget requirements and have the billing system up and running sometime in the fall of 2007,” Diaz said in an interview. That means the system should be working before the end of Mayor John Street’s administration at the end of 2007.
The project is still expected to cost about $18 million, even with the addition of billing software, said outgoing Philadelphia CIO Dianah Neff in a separate interview.
Neff and other officials would not name the new billing software vendor until the amended contract is finalized. But Neff said it is a well-known package that the city has already evaluated and found to be workable. The vendor is one of Oracle’s many recognized business partners, she said.
Oracle officials could not be reached for comment. But last month a spokeswoman said that Project Ocean was still in progress and that Oracle would deliver on its obligations.
Neff said last month that problems with the implementation stemmed from technical complexities, Oracle’s inexperience with building such a system and the departures of several project managers and executives sponsors.
Back in August, Oracle took a very hard line with Philadelphia, essentially stone-walling to avoid responsibility for the obvious failure. By bringing in a third-party Oracle business partner with relevant experience, Philadelphia may be able to safely re-open the valves on this project.