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