The Town of Cary is turning to SAS to help collect and utilize data from across many different sources in a project totaling more than $2.5 million.

“From our standpoint, we had a desire find a product that would do a better job of assessing our overall organizational performance and to look at someway to pull all the stuff together so we have one source and to enhance our ability to do predictive modeling,” said Ben Shivar, Cary’s assistant town manager.

Cary, a fast-growing community often called “Technology Town,” has been discussing the project for “seven or eight months,” Shivar said.

SAS was awarded the contract through a sole source selection process rather than through bidding.

“We did do extensive research,” Shivar said. “This falls under sole source because they were the only firm that offers an integrated modeling application along with the data warehousing aspect of it.”

In a joint statement, the town and SAS described the project as an “enterprise wide performance enhancement system” and a “first in the state.”

The Cary Town Council approved the contract with SAS on Thursday. It covers four years starting in July 2008 with a price tag of $1.33 million plus another $300,422 in annual maintenance and support costs.

The price reflects what SAS and the town called “savings” of $1.7 million off regular costs and includes an enterprise-wide licenses for an unlimited number of users plus development, testing and production. The package includes SAS Enterprise Business Intelligence, SAS Data Integration and SAS Enterprise Miner solutions.

“We asked them for the best possible price that they could give us as part of our negotiations,” Shivar said. “We do believe based on what our technical services has investigated in other software applications that we got a very good price.”

Through better gathering and utilizing of data, town leaders believe the SAS project will lead to improved allocation of resources and increased efficiency.

“SAS works with many government organizations around the U.S. and the world, from municipal to state and federal levels,” the SAS spokesperson added. “We anticipate that, like other SAS customers, the Town of Cary will realize a return on its investment through the better allocation of its current and future resources.”

The program will focus first on public safety and development.

“The initial phase of the project will focus on development and public safety services which will include, among other things, the analysis of projected growth and the allocation of resources, such as where to put police officers,” a SAS spokesperson told WRAL.com.

Town Manager Bill Coleman hailed the project in a statement.

“Through this partnership, we will be able to look toward the future like never before by examining data in ways that allow us to better anticipate and more proactively address the changes in and needs of our community,” he said.

Like many private businesses and government agencies, the town faced the challenge of utilizing data spread across different departments and different systems.

“One of our difficulties is the silo effect,” Shivar said, referring to data stored in different places and not easily accessible from other departments or users. “Sometimes pulling data out of our existing software can be very difficult.” The SAS project “will pull the data together and make it available town wide.”

The project also will enable the town to make use of data, such as census information, from outside sources, he added.

SAS, one of the world’s largest privately owned software and an acknowledged leader in business intelligence and data management, is headquartered in Cary. Nearly half of its 10,000 person workforce is based at the SAS business campus.

“What the Town is doing with technology, specifically applying analytics to optimize performance and demonstrate results, is an innovative approach for local government,” said Tim Vickers, director of SAS State and Local Government Practice. “As a Cary-based company, SAS is pleased to be a part of their efforts as we believe in applying our experience and technology expertise to make a difference in our communities."