Meeting Date:

March 17, 2008


Partial ($190,000 included in 2007-08 budget)



David A. Berger,


Database Project


General Manager





Line Item No.:  



Prepared By:

Stephanie Pintar

Cost Estimate:



Inder-Mohan S. Osahan




General Counsel Approval:  N/A

Committee Recommendation:  The Administrative Committee considered this item on March 12, 2008 and recommended approval.

CEQA Compliance:  N/A


SUMMARY:  The District’s Water Demand Division (WDD) is responsible for processing water permits, conducting inspections, managing conservation and rebate programs, and other water use regulatory functions affecting residential and non-residential properties within the District boundaries.  All data collected as a result of these efforts is stored in three antiquated DOS-based databases that are cumbersome, problematic and incapable of providing the level of service needed to adequately manage and track the District’s current conservation and demand management programs.  The databases were originally set up between 1987 and 1990, partly by in-house staff.  These databases have limited availability to staff and cannot be made available for public access on the internet. 


The plan to upgrade the WDD data systems was part of a strategic initiative of the Board adopted in 2001 under the goal “Address Customer Service Improvements.”  Staff envisions a single-entry comprehensive database system that will eliminate duplication of effort and will increase the effectiveness and responsiveness of the WDD.  It is anticipated that the proposed database system will reduce the staff time needed to input data by at least 50 percent.  This added resource will allow staff to expand its efforts on conservation programs and policy enforcement.  This labor savings will more than “pay-back” the database software cost, over time.


Since 2001, WDD staff and the District’s Information Technology Officer, in coordination with an outside consultant, spent considerable time and effort to compile all WDD data requirements and to prepare workflow diagrams for the interactive WDD database system.  District staff issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) in August 2007 to solicit qualified database software development firms to submit proposals for creating a new WDD database system.  Proposals were received from the following firms, which are shown in the table below along with their estimated fees:  




 Estimated Price



 $150,000 - 200,000


RBF Consulting



RightThere Inc.



Zone 24x7



After thoroughly reviewing the qualifications and experience of the four responding firms, District staff determined that Zone 24x7 has the best overall technical capacity on its proposed project team to successfully complete the WDD database project.  Attached is a copy of the proposal submitted by Zone 24x7, which has experience developing client-server web applications specifically using the Microsoft SQL server database and environment called for in the District’s RFP (Exhibit 16-A). 


Upon checking the references provided by Zone 24x7, it was apparent that they have completed similar project(s) to their clients’ satisfaction, and have the proven technical skills and knowledge to program the new WDD database based on the requirements staff has gathered since April 2004. These requirements included specifications for permits tracking and inventories for all types of water fixtures, credits and debits occurring as part of the water permit process, financial accounting for revenue and accounts receivables, and maintaining and tracking allocations for the various jurisdictions. In addition, staff has developed all WDD business workflow processes for conservation, rebates, water use credits, water credit transfers, daily tasks to be automated and reports needed for water and fiscal accounting.


The proposal submitted by Zone 24x7 included a complete project plan that followed the industry software development life cycle process. Overall, Zone 24x7 demonstrated that they are a software development company well suited to programming and custom software development, such as that needed for the new WDD database system. Zone 24x7’s proposal also showed that Zone 24x7 had reviewed the District’s business workflow diagrams, prototype for the screens and other documentation provided. Additional enhancements were also visible in the proposal in-lieu of the needs and requirement documents already provided by Zone 24x7. Based on this detailed review, staff has selected Zone 24x7 to develop the new WDD database software.


The goal of this project is to create a single, integrated WDD database system by developing custom-coded software using a professional software development firm. Custom-coded software, rather than “off the shelf” software is needed to address the unique requirements of the District.  It was evident from the response to the RFP that Zone 24x7 has the skills and experience necessary to code, test, and deploy the new WDD database system. The public and other agencies will be able to access the system via the Internet to obtain limited information on fixture counts, water use permits, conservation inspections, permit status, rebates, enforcement proceedings, etc.  Staff believes that Zone 24x7 best meets the project goals and submitted the superior proposal to complete the WDD database.   


Upon completion of the project, the District will own the rights to the source code for the new database system developed by Zone 24x7.  This is important since the new software is being developed solely to address the WDD business processes. Ownership of the source code will give the District the flexibility to modify or add to the application as needed. Future changes to the database system will require outside programmers familiar with the programming language, as this knowledge is not presently available in house.


RECOMMENDATION:   District staff recommends that the Board:


  1. Authorize the General Manager to enter into a District standard professional services agreement with Zone 24x7, for a fixed price amount of $264,920, to develop, deploy and maintain the new WDD database system.  The payment schedule is based on tasks completed and accepted by District staff (Exhibit 16-B).   Staff has identified two additional WDD database development tasks for enforcement of District Rules and Regulations and invoicing for services that were not included in the RFP. Staff estimates that an additional $35,000 will be needed to complete these additional tasks, and recommends adding this amount to the Zone 24x7 scope of work, for a total of $299,920. If approved, staff will negotiate the amount required for these additional tasks and include them in the agreement with Zone 24x7.


2.      Approve an amendment to the District’s existing professional service agreement with PM Connect, the consultant previously retained to prepare the WDD workflows and the RFP for the project, to provide project management assistance to the CTO during the software development and deployment phase of the project, for a cost not to exceed $20,000.


The Administrative Committee considered this matter at its March 12, 2008 meeting and voted 3-0 to recommend approval.    


IMPACT ON STAFF AND RESOURCES:  The District’s adopted FY 2007-08 project budget includes $180,000 under Objective 4-1-3, Database Project Programming for this effort and $10,000 for project management outsourcing under account number 99-01-7550.  Not all of the budgeted $190,000 will be expended in fiscal year 2007-08, as the project is proposed to be initiated this year and completed in FY 2008-09.  If the Board approves this recommended action, the unexpended portion of this budget amount, plus the additional amount of $130,000 required to complete the WDD database project will be included in the 2008-09 proposed budget.  This additional amount represents the dollar difference between the $190,000 currently budgeted for the WDD database project, and the combined cost of the Zone 24x7 total estimated fee (i.e. $299,920), and the PM Connect amended agreement amount ($20,000),  rounded to the nearest $1,000.  


WDD staff and the CTO will be working with Zone 24x7 as the new software is being developed.  Regular meetings are required to ensure that the software being developed is based on the requirements that were included in the RFP.  As the project reaches completion, greater levels of effort will be required by WDD staff to work with the vendor to ensure that the program works as designed.  It is anticipated that District staff will be contributing 20 hours a week initially, and up to 16 hours per week as the project nears completion.

BACKGROUND:  “Address Customer Service Improvements” was one objective of the strategic initiative to “Revise the Permit Process” established by the Board at its September 5, 2001 Strategic Planning session.  Specifically, the first goal of addressing customer service improvements was to “upgrade information system and technology to provide immediate, accurate, comprehensive property information available to all Water Demand Division staff via their desktop computer.” 


The District’s DOS-based database system runs on a UNIX platform in terminal-based mode and is obsolete. This system is not considered user friendly and does not have a graphical user interface. The system needs constant IT support for any report generation or for modification to any computer code as the Rules and Regulations of the District change. The District uses DOS-based database systems for permitting, conservation program administration and enforcement, accounting, reclamation project billing/receivables and human resources.  The conservation and permit program database is the largest and most frequently used database system at the District.


A serious disadvantage of the DOS-based database system is that staff must enter the same information for the property into multiple databases. Each of the current WDD functions for permitting, conservation, and rebates use separate database systems. These databases cannot cross-reference each other and are not integrated. This is inefficient for staff and introduces the possibility of error due to multiple data entry. Also, when special reports are needed for the Board and/or public, a new query has to be initiated by IT programming resources.


Based on the feedback from District staff, the then-General Manager suggested that IT staff put resources and time into getting the WDD database system converted into a single Windows-based database with one point of data entry.  It must be easily accessible to the staff and public, and provide full functionality based on the District’s rules and regulations.  This project was termed a middle tier project that would take up to three years to complete.   


Due to WDD’s unique requirements, it was determined that the District could not use off-the- shelf software for the WDD database and that custom software needed to be developed. In June 2003, WDD staff and the CTO began gathering requirements for the new database system.  The District has invested approximately 2,500 staff hours and $107,000 in consultant costs over the past four+ years in preparing workflow diagrams and other technical design parameters, in order to help ensure that the WDD database project is both successful and cost-effective.  A summary of the current staff and consultant resource investment and a timeline for database development are provided at Exhibits 16-C and 16-D.



16-A    Zone 24x7 Proposal

16-B    Zone 24x7 Task-based Payment Schedule

16-C    District Investment in WDD Database Project to Date

16-D    District Timeline for Developing WDD Database Project