A defect in the city’s website this week calls for a review of its vendor and the vendor’s system in order to restore public confidence.
That analysis is underway.
Mayor Bob Sivertsen told the Ketchikan City Council this week that the city had to identify the problem — which City Manager Karl Amylon had explained earlier — and then solve it.
Sivertsen also suggested that the city might require a webmaster. This would be someone who would monitor the city site and ensure that it is secure, working with the host and software providers.
The flaw affected a document that had yet to be approved for public display.
The city had issued a request for proposals for Port of Ketchikan and upland development and received three responses. One response was rejected, for which reasons can become known later in the process. The other two responses became one of the top two major topics of the year, with a special meeting called in which the public sought their release in order to comment knowledgeably.
The City Council decided a week ago to ask both parties of the final proposals to sign a waiver for public release by Oct. 3.
Global Ports Holding, which operates Ketchikan Port Solutions, signed the waiver, and its proposal appeared on the city’s website last week.
Survey Point Holdings delayed until this week, hoping to add a paragraph to the waiver that stated the proposals would be the finals and preventing adjustments to them by either firm after they had viewed the other’s.
That became a mute point when Global informed the city it had gained access to Survey Point’s proposal, which had been stored on what the city had thought to be a non-public part of its website until public release had been ordered. Global told Amylon the private document came up by employing the search button on the city’s website.
The fact that Global — of all visitors to the website — discovered the website’s weak point is a calamity, given that it is in competition with Survey Point for a deal worth — by the time the proposed 30-year contract is completed — perhaps billions of dollars.
The city has no choice but to consider these proposals the final ones. And it can accept one or reject both and choose to handle port development for the immediate future itself. It doesn’t prevent negotiating with a finalist.
A comparison of the three options is likely as the public begins its review.
In the meantime, restoring public confidence in the city’s website security is a priority. This sort of situation shouldn’t have happened.
But, then, it does, and from local to world arenas. Twice with the city, it has been learned — an embarrassment the city undoubtedly prefers not to repeat again. It also occurs with bigger governments and entities with resources beyond Ketchikan’s to control it. Plus, even webmasters and other experts in the world of technology make mistakes. It’s one of the reasons software is almost outdated as soon as it becomes available. With each new revelation, improved software or ways of conducting business are invested in.
That’s what the city will do. Despite the challenging economic times with no cruise ship season, on which the government depends greatly for income, an investment is required in the city’s website.