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LETTER: Administration should be ashamed of problems that plague new cmich.edu, Central Link


Regarding last Monday’s article, "OIT takes the reins for launch of new website; student reaction varies with early launch," Roger Rehm is still spouting nonsense.

“Blue Chip Consulting Group, hired to help with the redesign, has fulfilled much of its contract, and now Central Michigan University’s Office of Information and Technology is taking a more hands-on role,” the article said.

Blue Chip has failed miserably. Much of what they were supposed to do wasn’t done at all, and much of what they actually did was of poor quality. What was claimed would be done is still nowhere near completion, and it will take significantly more resources to complete the project as originally envisioned.

According to the article, “No extra cost will occur, because OIT is involved with this phase of the website project.” Rehm was also quoted in the article as having said, “In such cases, OIT employees are temporarily reassigned from other projects on which they’re engaged, do whatever work is required of them and are compensated as they would normally be based upon their existing contracts with CMU.”

As I said before, just because the work is being done by CMU staff instead of consultants, it doesn’t mean that it has no cost. It seems that Rehm is unfamiliar with the concept of “Opportunity Cost.” The work they do mopping up after Blue Chip’s failures keeps them from doing other, more productive work. Yet more evidence that Rehm is an unqualified stooge, ignorant of I.T., but willing to spout BS for an undeserved paycheck. Beyond OIT, there were other I.T. professionals throughout CMU dragged into cleaning up after Blue Chip’s mess.

Leave it to Renee Walker to scurry off and hide after passing a counterfeit buck to OIT. In defense of OIT, if it weren’t for their involvement, as bad as things are, they’d be even worse.

Interestingly enough, looking back, I found an article, "CMU website redesign launch coming," published on Jan. 12. The article said “Vice President for Information Technology Roger Rehm said Central Michigan University’s cmich.edu website redesign is moving along at the expected pace after its August delay.”

It seems I was too busy at the beginning of the semester to give it my attention, but he was lying back then, too. As late as November, there was another deadline set for December, around the time of the two-week shutdown at the end of the year. Certain of my coworkers were being told that they’d have to come in during the shutdown to clean up after it’d be intentionally launched with major defects. Before November was over, that deadline was postponed indefinitely. That was plenty of lead time for him to be fully aware that expectations were not being met. Nearly four additional months, and it still launched as a broken mess.

Regarding Wednesday’s article, "Website launch comes up short with campus community," there’s yet more evidence that the Web Task Farce hasn’t a clue.

“In a statement from the Web Task Force team via University Communications, ‘the launch of the web environment went very well and performance of the environment more than met (our) expectations,’” the article said.

There have been multiple instances of downtime, broken links are everywhere and it has lousy usability. What on earth were their expectations, such that they were exceeded by this ridiculous mess?

“The launch has been very successful for a project the size of this scope, according to the email from the Web Task Force and University Communications,” the article said.

Everything is peachy, according to a tiny group of unqualified, incompetent, arrogant and irresponsible fools.

“Individuals still having trouble navigating the site are asked to use the search function and invest some time in configuring the favorites tab," the article said.

In other words, users are being told to piss off and waste their own time figuring out how to get around the broken and defective system.

Thursday’s article, "CentralLink endures ‘intermittent’ outages," said “CentralLink, the portal of the CMU online network, has had sporadic outages that students feared would leave them unable to access grades and class assignments, among other information ahead of exam week.”

Was the Web Task Farce expecting that, too?

The article also said “Roger Rehm, vice president of Information Technology, could not be reached for comment.”

Did you try looking under his desk?

Wednesday’s editorial, "EDITORIAL: University Communications should bear the blame for cmich.edu redesign mess," said “University Communications has been partnering with several different entities, including the Office of Information Technology and the hired, Ohio-based Blue Chip Consulting Group.”

While the editorial doesn’t blame OIT, it does seem that Rehm has been all too willing to throw it under the bus. I don’t believe that OIT should be getting blamed for this debacle. Roger Rehm is fair game, as he failed at his job, as he has all along. Rehm has no experience as an I.T. practitioner and has a completely irrelevant educational background. It seems his only purpose is to serve as a figurehead and mouthpiece for other people’s lies and fabrications.

It’s my understanding that OIT got dragged substantially into the mess AFTER Blue Chip proved itself a colossal failure. If it weren’t for OIT’s efforts, it’d be much worse.

“What’s worse is University Communications still seems to think perfect silence will somehow instill a belief in students, faculty, alumni and community members that things are indeed perfect at CMU, and have been very reluctant to admit anything about any dissent, going as far as to dismiss the nearly 20 votes of no confidence against the current administration,” the editorial said.

University Communications is the propaganda wing of the administration. They’re responsible for spamming a large quantity of dishonesty and out-right lies to the CMU community and the general public.

Walker fancies herself as a web designer. She should take a hike and try to make a career of it. She’d get what she deserves, and CMU would be better off without her.

Here’s how it often seems to work with I.T. consultants at CMU:

Consultants come in because “they know better than a bunch of chumps who work at CMU and don’t have time to do the work.” Consultants do a terrible job for excessive cost, and leave a giant mess behind. CMU staff gets diverted from productive work to try to salvage the disaster the consultants left behind. CMU staff is too busy cleaning up the mess to deal with the next idiotic idea from some fool in a suit.

Go to step one.

Blue Chip is just the latest in a line of snakes to sucker clueless administrators, take CMU’s money and leave a giant mess behind.

If the financial and political capital invested in consulting boondoggles were allocated to CMU’s I.T. professionals (which specifically excludes Roger Rehm and Renee Walker), there’d be better a better return on investment. However, it seems that giving competent people the resources and empowerment to get things done is unthinkable to the unthinking.

Sincerely, Andrew Wittbrodt Programmer / Analyst IV (also two-time graduate and current graduate student) Central Michigan University

Disclaimer: I speak for no one other than myself; no one speaks for me other than myself. This was written on my own time, using resources available to me as a student. Also, despite my job title, I do not presently work for OIT, nor have I ever in the past, nor am I likely to in the future.

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