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Bitwise Created Database for Fresno County. It Was Too 'Techy' and Costly to Maintain.
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By David Taub, Senior Reporter
Published 10 months ago on
June 15, 2023

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A $663,000 database built for Fresno County by Bitwise Industries worked, but the county later opted for a model that was easier to use and cheaper to maintain.

The county contracted with Bitwise’s tech-building company Shift3, for a five-year contract in 2016. The deal was for Shift3 to build the database for the Department of Behavioral Health.

Ahmad Bahrami, DBH division manager, said the county needed a software tool to screen clients for homelessness and substance abuse and link them to the proper services.

But, the database Shift3 created required yearly license fees.

“It was going to really make the project unsustainable. And the software that was used on the tech side wasn’t something that our county IT supported,” Bahrami said.

Bitwise furloughed all of its employees on May 29 and fired them officially on Wednesday, June 14. The company has undergone serious financial scrutiny over its business practices, including accusations of fraud, wage theft, and not paying taxes.

Not User Friendly

Bahrami said the Shift3 product met the contractual requirements, but may not have been user-end friendly.

“The usage was a lot of the maintenance and things like that that you would have to do that was really techy. And so that was why I think we ran into (problems) because, again, that’s not our wheelhouse,” Bahrami said.

The yearly licensing and maintenance weren’t worth it, Bahrami said. The department looked at creating its own database software, before going with another vendor.

“Easily within a couple of years, (the database would) become really expensive just to do that. And so we felt that we needed to look at another option,” Bahrami said.

Contract Details

The county paid a total of $663,000 for a five-year contract (2016-2021) and a one-year renewal through June 30, 2022.

The Fresno County Board of Supervisors approved the contract with 5-0 votes in 2016 and 2021. The upfront cost was $323,500, with approximately $48,000 in yearly licensing/maintenance fees.

I think it speaks for itself that the Department of Behavioral Health contracted with somebody else after that Bitwise contract was over,” Supervisor Steve Brandau told GV Wire.

The county contracted with another tech builder, Unite USA, for a two-year contract (2022-2024) for a total of $180,000, which includes an approximate $20,000 licensing/maintenance cost.

County officials say the database contract was the county’s only dealings with Bitwise.

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David Taub,
Senior Reporter
Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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