Hidden Agendas

Just as PlaceSpeak was quietly replaced with “EngageAurora” (more on that in a separate post) now we learn that the town’s agenda service has changed hands from PrimeGov to eScribe.

Seeing as the Town of Aurora’s communication department consistently fails to communicate effectively the transitions of these IT services and their impacts to its residents I will share my experience here.

If we go back to the 2015 budget you will see Project 13008 : Meeting Management Software for $75,000:

Under impacts this report boast that “E-Agenda provides a more intuitive and user-friendly interface for Council, staff and the public, and equates to improved access and greater convenience. “ Also that “Final agendas, minutes, and related documents can be quickly and easily posted to a designated website for “public” and staff access.

It also states that the Completion date of Purchase and implementation of a new e-agenda system for Council and Committee meetings had a completion date of January 2016:

A little optimistic considering the bid document I could find shows that Newmarket’s tender to primegov closed in March of 2016 and 7 months later Aurora Council received a report on their October 4th General Committee Meeting that the town had entered into an agreement with Primegov through a piggyback clause in agreement with the Town of Newmarket. It also states that substantial work “will be” (not has been) undertaken to implement the system:

So much for achieving the anticipated completion date as a linkage to the town’s strategic plan of Q1 2016:

Note how in this report clear benefits are outlined as both “improved search function” and “shareable links to documents”.

This part was correct. When the town was using the PrimeGov e-Agenda system items could be searched and links to documents could be shared.

But this abruptly stopped when Aurora ceased using PrimeGov and replaced it with eScribe.

It was noticed by a member of the public and when questioned why years of searchable and linked agenda documents were scrubbed this was the email received from the clerk’s office:

“One of the consequences of this change is that the PrimeGov interactive agenda is no longer available on our website, and therefore any links you have used in the past are no longer available.


Not ideal is the understatement of the year.

But before we blindly accept an apology for this new normal we need to know if council was consulted with and properly informed as to this change of service and such an impact.

I was unable to find any staff report that lays out a clear and concise comparison between these 2 services with pros and cons. Nothing to show cost or service comparison and nothing that discloses that data will not be migrated due to a change of providers.

What I was able to find with a quick Google search was Ecribe’s February 25th, 2020 Budget Proposal to the Town of Aurora.

Which you can read in full in the provided link above, or here:

Page 1 it states that “it is understood that Aurora is looking to address these key objectives” and # 10 is “Migrate legacy Prime.Gov and internally generated public documents and videos to the new platform.”

Page 8 speaks to Legacy Data Migration:

And page 12, bullet point 6 speaks to the fact that migration of existing content requires a separate statement of work. Point 8 expands on this to say a quote can be prepared and even provides a range between $5 – $7K for this service.

So if data migration was one of 10 key objectives and eScribe outlines the available service and provides a ballpark quote what the hell happened?

Apology not accepted, full stop!

An explanation as to why data migration was not secured and completed prior to a transfer of service is need more than a faupology..

It’s a little rich to mouthspew out that “eScribe offers residents more efficiency in terms of access to our agendas and minutes.” while simultaneously consciously choosing decided to purge like 3 years of public documents that were boasted as being shareable and searchable.

The end result of this switch is a huge lack of continuity. Add to that a decrease in service and an overall decrease in transparency and accountability, which contravenes the town’s own Accountability and Transparency Policy.

For all the noise about strengthening the town’s communications and doing community engagement online during a pandemic where is a notice about this transition? Would it have taken more than one timmies break to put out a video that alerts community members of the change in service to the e-agenda and how to navigate it?



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