RAPIDS: 4 years later taxpayers are still paying for it

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — In 2011, the City of Richmond purchased RAPIDS. The $18 million dollar financial database was supposed to make everything from payroll to billing easier. But the 2013 roll out of RAPIDS was flawed and led to a cyber disaster at City Hall.

Four years later, 8News has learned taxpayers are still paying big bucks for the database.

Nick Valdrighi chair of Richmond’s Audit Committee recently said this when describing the RAPIDS roll out: “It was an absolute disaster.”

At a recent committee meeting, Valdrighi wanted to know how much the city spent on fixing the system. Richmond’s Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Finance Lenora Reid responded, “We still don’t know the total cost of the fixes.”

That got us at 8News curious and after looking at all the invoices for work on RAPIDS, all of which can be found here:

Astyra Invoices # 1

Astyra Invoices # 2

SIS Invoices

Cherry Bekaert Invoices

8News found three companies, thousands of hours of work and close to a million dollars of taxpayer money – still being spent on enhancements to the system.

As of today, the system is still not fully operating.

“I am told it is not integrated with a budget department,” City Councilwoman Kim Gray said. “They are working from excel spreadsheets. They have had to hand-key a lot of things.”

RAPIDS stands for Real Time Automated Personnel Identification System. It stores and manages data for everything from payroll and benefits to accounts payable and grant projects. It’s supposed to reduce time and the potential for errors.
But shortly after the system was launched, a City audit found vendors not being paid on-time and balances were sometimes inaccurate.

“The implementation and the roll out was not done in a proper manner and there is a lot of data that was completely lost,” Gray said.

Four years later, the City’s Finance Director John Wack tells 8News “Nearly all modules of RAPIDS are running smoothly.” But in a statement, he admits “there are still some manual work-around efforts” and said that the City continues to pay two firms to get RAPIDS up and running for projects and grants.

Another $200,000 has been budgeted for RAPIDS enhancements for fiscal-year 2018.

Many other communities use RAPIDS including Henrico. Henrico installed its RAPIDS system with no issues.

City leaders say Richmond’s issues have more to do with how and when RAPIDS was implemented. At the time, there was a lot of turnover and vacancies in the Finance Department and there was a lack of training and testing with the new system before it went live.

City officials couldn’t tell 8News how much more money will need to be spent on enhancements to the system, but we are told they will have an update next month.

8News will stay on it.

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.

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