Oversight? Who needs it? We’ve got Keystone Managers/Cops

Just one more example of How Orange County CEO Tom Mauk lets managers off the hook for errors that cost the taxpayers hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars to fix. Be it managing personnel OC CEO Mauk condones Bustamantes’ sexist remarks!, or contracts here, he just keeps getting it wrong.

County IT task force fails to audit computer contracts
A committee set up two years ago falls short of its original mandate to oversee the county’s computer contracts

Friday, June 27, 2008
BY NORBERTO SANTANA JR.
The Orange County Register

In the wake of the latest county computer contracting scandal, attention has refocused on the lack of performance from a county organized task force formed two years ago that was supposed to keep an eye on the myriad of multi-million dollar computer contracts throughout the sprawling county bureaucracy.

This week, County Auditor David Sundstrom revealed that he had terminated a small portion of a contract with ACS State and Local Solutions after problems arose with the company’s work.

With an overall contract valued at more than $25 million, ACS is the county’s largest Information technology contractor.

That has left some wondering why a county task force,  formed in the wake of a different ACS flap three years ago, didn’t spot the latest problems and hasn’t done much to shed light on the county’s computer contracts.

Nick Berardino“The committee has not accomplished its mission,” said panel member Nick Berardino, general manager of the Orange County Employees Association. “The meetings have been reduced to staff updates on various projects and justifying more lavish contracts to outside vendors.” 

Mauk said monitoring contract performance is a management issue and not one left to an oversight committee.

The IT Working Group was formed in 2006 following a problem with ACS in which a $6 million computer main frame was delivered to the county before supervisors even voted on the item and a competitor accused ACS of having inside access to bids. In 2006, then-supervisor Lou Correa announced the task force, selling its central aim as reviewing all existing contracts.

“It is disturbing that the taxpayers were told we were going to be aggressive regarding reviewing these contracts when in fact it never happened,” Berardino said.

Correa said the working group was supposed to review general countywide IT goals, aims and strategies as well as specific contracts. “There was always something before getting to those contracts,” he said adding that the county bureaucracy always viewed his task force with “apprehension.”

Even today, there still seems to be confusion about what the IT Working Group is supposed to review.

County CEO Tom MaukCounty CEO Tom Mauk said he always viewed the working group as responsible for general policy, and not specific contract reviews. Mauk gave special praise for the county’s new head of IT, Satish Ajmani, noting that county supervisors now get quarterly updates of technology projects. Mauk also said Ajmani and Sundstrom had identified the problems with the current ACS project proactively.

Berardino did successfully motion to have the ACS contract reviewed this January. That study is now complete, IT Director Satish Ajmani said and is being reviewed.

Contractors walking away with our cheeseAsked why an ACS review took several years to begin given the county’s history with the firm, Ajmani said he had concentrated more on putting together a general technology strategy for the county before focusing on specific contracts. That also should be unveiled soon before supervisors, he said.

That triggered a vigorous response from Berardino.

“Satish’s rationale is typical,” he said. “They have taken over two years to look at how they should be organized. The County does this while they continue to send taxpayer dollars out the door on contracts and award new contracts.”

Read the complete article by Norberto Santana at the Orange County Register HERE.

  1 comment for “Oversight? Who needs it? We’ve got Keystone Managers/Cops

  1. RLG
    July 1, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    Mauk should go! So should many of the bureaucrats that run OC agencies (e.g., HCA)!

    The BOS should have an annual initiative to cut the REDTAPE!

    So many are stuck in the box instead of using creative and critical thinking to ensure more efficient efforts of our SERVANT leaders.

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