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2:31 AM Tue, Nov. 20th

CAFMA looking to make tech improvements after poor IT audit

Scott Bliss, chief of planning and logistics for the Central Arizona Fire and Medical Authority, presents an information technology (IT) audit report to the organization’s board of directors Monday, July 23. Standing next to Bliss is CAFMA Fire Chief Scott Freitag. (Max Efrein/Courier)

Scott Bliss, chief of planning and logistics for the Central Arizona Fire and Medical Authority, presents an information technology (IT) audit report to the organization’s board of directors Monday, July 23. Standing next to Bliss is CAFMA Fire Chief Scott Freitag. (Max Efrein/Courier)

The Central Arizona Fire and Medical Authority (CAFMA) is having to take a hard look at its agency-wide information technology (IT) system following poor results from an audit by an independent third-party IT services company.

The audit revealed a number of significant issues related to staffing, security and upkeep.

“The idea was to examine the existing state of our IT to determine what its status was and to provide recommendations for moving forward and to just make sure we knew what we had,” Scott Bliss, chief of planning and logistics for CAFMA, said to the CAFMA board of directors Monday, July 23.

Some of what CAFMA found out through the audit was expected, such as a need for additional IT personnel to catch up on a backlog of work in an expanding organization.

“The big issue is we are still managing our IT system as if we are a small organization, and we need to turn that around,” Bliss said.

Meaning, rather than paying an outside IT services company for the majority of its technology needs –like it has been doing – they need to build a more robust internal IT department so that most issues can be dealt with in-house. This will eventually help the organization cut down on IT-related costs; reduce the time spent on resolving IT issues; and give the organization more control over how it manages its system, Bliss said.

Other audit results came as a total surprise. Specifically, their technology manager had led them to believe that the backup system for their IT was sufficient. Instead, it was found to be highly vulnerable.

“In the event that we needed a backup, whatever destroyed the original could also destroy the backup,” Bliss said.

That technology manager has since been let go by the organization and a new one is being sought. The auditor also recommended they hire an IT engineer and an entry-level technician, who can deal with small IT issues throughout the agency.

Very little of what the auditor said CAFMA needs to do to create an effective IT department has yet been budgeted.

“We’re hoping to reassess our budget around January/February time frame to see if that entry-level position is something we can pull off toward the end of this fiscal year,” CAFMA Fire Chief Scott Freitag said.

And to ensure the organization is not mislead by an employee again, CAFMA is considering doing an internal audit of its IT systems at least every three years.

Other board news:

Fire boards choose auditing company

All three fire boards – Chino Valley Fire District, Central Yavapai Fire District and Central Arizona Fire and Medical Authority – have approved to use the certified public accounting firm Henry+Horne to conduct their financial auditing reports for fiscal years 2018-2020.

The cost for these three years of services is $12,000 for each fire district and $72,000 for CAFMA – totaling $96,000.

CAFMA headquarters holding up in rain

This time last year, CAFMA’s administration noticed that the porous walls of their new headquarters was taking in water.

To prevent further water damage, they invested $32,122 to seal the entire building with a thick coating of commercial product and then paint over it.

The building, located at 8603 E. Eastridge Drive in Prescott Valley, has held up pretty well so far this monsoon season, Freitag reported to the CAFMA board of directors Monday.

“We only saw water on the wall that took a direct hit during the heaviest of rain and wind storms; there was no standing water, just some seepage,” Freitag said. “As Director (Jeff) Wasowicz indicated, it’s next to impossible to seal block 100 perfect. That said, we are in good shape.”

Follow Max Efrein on Twitter @mefrein, email him at mefrein@prescottaz.com or call him at 928-445-3333 ext. 1105.