Potvin responds to report on IT arrangement

Potvin responds to report on IT arrangement

LINCOLN – Denise Potvin says she returned to work for the town of Lincoln due to a “cascading series of emergencies” that occurred after she retired from her position as the town's in-house IT director in 2018.

After she was initially hired in 2004 as IT manager and later promoted to IT director, Potvin gave notice of her intent to retire in early 2018 and says she offered to train her successor.

“I left that department with pride, knowing I helped build it up with my own two hands,” she said. “Being a female in a male-dominated field is nothing to sneeze at.”

The Breeze reported last week that Focus IT, owned by Denise Potvin, has continued to provide the bulk of the town’s IT services with no public bid or contract outlining the scope of work.

Potvin this week offered comments on the circumstances that led to that arrangement.

To perform billable services to the town, she says she incorporated her company Focus IT. The company billed a total of $4,477 in 2018 and $775 in 2019 for helping with the employee transition, says Potvin.

“Just over $5,000. That’s all it was,” she said. “June 2019 was the last bill he (former Town Administrator Joe Almond) ever called me for.”

In October of 2019, Potvin’s successor left abruptly. She was asked to return again as Focus IT on a temporary basis. Potvin said she agreed to help the town “get back on its feet,” but reiterated that she wouldn’t be staying forever.

“When my successor left suddenly, the town was in a very difficult position,” she said. “Computer networks are the lifeblood of any organization today. I was frankly home with my husband canning tomatoes. I was happy. But I stepped in, secured the network and kept them all afloat.”

Focus IT had been providing IT services for roughly five months when the pandemic struck.

“I found out that they were preparing (a request for proposals) when COVID hit,” Potvin said. “My work there became more important than almost anyone at Town Hall.”

Potvin said she was tasked with securing Zoom licenses and running virtual meetings, teaching people about unfamiliar technology, providing new services to places such as the Lincoln Senior Center and the Family Literacy Center in Manville, and helping to organize vaccination clinics.

When the town began to emerge from the worst of the pandemic, she said Almond announced his planned departure, again delaying the request for proposals for the position.

A resolution was introduced during last month's Town Council meeting requesting that the acting town administrator issue a request for proposals, accept applications, perform interviews and fill the IT director role as soon as possible.

The language of the resolution, as written, states that “during the pandemic, the town had to hire an outside contractor to meet its IT needs,” and that, “most of the costs associated with this position will be reimbursed to the town by COVID relief funds."

Potvin said that wording does not accurately represent the situation.

First, she said, she was brought on before the pandemic. Second, while the resolution states that most of the costs will be reimbursed with COVID relief funds, ‘most’ is the wrong word. She added that the discrepancy “shows the disconnect on the council with hiring issues.”

“They were trying to do the right thing but they misspoke there,” she said.

Responding to one accusation that she is accepting a pension from the town, Potvin said she’s 57 years old and not eligible to collect one.

Town Councilor Ken Pichette told The Breeze that any insinuation that Potvin, who is his sister, received special treatment due to his position on the council is false, adding that he has recused himself from any decision having to do with her or Focus IT.

He said he's frustrated by suggestions that he "set Potvin up with a contract position," noting that Potvin took the job in Lincoln six years before he was elected. Both said they have no involvement with one another’s role in town.

“The Town Council has nothing to do with hiring employees,” he said.

Comments

Blah, blah, blah. All the money she earned is “nothing to sneeze at”. Her brother approved Focus IT’s bills every month for two years. There was no recusal on his part. They should both be gone from their positions.

To my knowledge, no one has claimed that Denise Potvin did anything wrong. There is no need to play the woman or pandemic cards.

Thank you for the service you provided. You helped our town tremendously.

I, too, have been an IT specialist for the last 25 years. The fact that the charges seem outrageous is not the fault of the person who performed the work, it is due to the lack of a competitive bid that could have saved Lincoln taxpayers a boat load of money. Setting up zoom calls, and much of the other work she provided, is not brain surgery. $100 per hour to turn on and off equipment at the start and end of meetings that can last several hours is a little much.

Both the last administrator and the council, especially the councilor who is her brother, had an obligation to ensure it was done right. It shouldn't have taken three years to go out to bid.

The fact that the council can't even word a resolution correctly, in the aftermath, is especially concerning.

There's no poop on her group. Denise is a stand up person who's done a great job. Let it go people.

Please stop insulting our intelligence with these nonsense excuses. The Councilman took us all for a ride, which is unfortunate for the taxpayers of Lincoln. Is the next article going to be from the elementary principal telling us her school committee husband did not hire her? Stop. Just please stop.

Potvin provided a service because she was allowed to by the town administrator and council. The onus was on them to craft a solution in the best interests of the TAXPAYERS. After 3 years of doing absolutely nothing, our elected officials failed miserably. In this day and age of cyber fraud and identity theft, it's unheard of that this was taken so lightly by those officials with law enforcement background! We must now elect candidates who are not insiders, who are unafraid to ask the hard questions and who will ensure town hall works for the people.

...with the blatant nepotism occurring with local politics in Lincoln? Between The Town Council and The School Committee, we are faced with blatant examples. How about hiring the most qualified candidate? Please....

“I was promoted to IT Director”: There is ONE IT position, not two. She was never “promoted”.
“My work there became more important than almost anyone at Town Hall”. Really? How conceited and delusional can you possibly be?