Frederick City Hall recovers from tech malfunctions

Frederick_A possible computer virus wormed its way through Frederick's City Hall this month and stopped workers from getting utility bills in the mail.  While the back up data also was problematic, they had not lost vital information they need.  City Manager Robert Johnston says he still is unsure how it all started.  "Technology - you're so dependent on it," he said.  "When you find out it let you down, it's quite a disappointment."

"It appears to be a combination of problems, but the bottom line is we could get into many of the programs, but we couldn't get them to function properly."  Because of the problem many residents did not get their utility bills since workers couldn't get them printed.  "For the most part we could look at the bill and tell them what was due us.  We just couldn't literally print a bill."

Many customers physically visited city hall to find out what they owed, and the city is giving residents some extra time to pay their bills because of the computer problems.  "We sent bills a week late so we extended the due date a week," he said.

Johnston says they are slowly but surely getting their system back up and running.  "We haven't fully recovered," he said.  "We haven't diagnosed how we got that state of affairs, but it was definitely a sober experience - and inconvenient experience."  He says that from now on, city hall will be investigating ways to avoid future software problems.  "It's about time to replace our computer server anyway," he said.  "We'll be looking at that and some other precautions.  The tape backup which we do daily, there was some malfunction there."

Johnston says that for a week Frederick had to go back to doing things the old-fashioned way - using paper.  Frederick City officials say they feel very lucky that they did not lose all of their data.  They say Tecumseh has the exact same software and had the exact same problem which resulted in that town losing everything.