When I wrote about Jennifer Muir’s Watchdog ReportÂ County IT Spending Like Drunken Sailors On No Bid Contracts it jogged my memory. It seems we’ve been here before. In June of 2008 I wrote a post titled Oversight? Who needs it? Weve got Keystone Managers/Cops. My storyÂ highlighted then OC Register investigative reporter Norberto Santana’s storyÂ titled County IT task force fails to audit computer contractsÂ - A committee set up two years ago falls short of its original mandate to oversee the countyâ€™s computer contracts.
Rather interesting stuffÂ that Santana reported:
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 [at the request of Lou Correa] that was supposed to keep an eye on the myriad of multi-million dollar computer contracts throughout the sprawling county bureaucracy.
“It is disturbing that the taxpayers were told we were going to be aggressive regarding reviewing these contracts when in fact it never happened,” said panel member Nick Berardino, general manager of the Orange County Employees Association.
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 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.
“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.”Â
Mauk said monitoring contract performance is a management issue and not one left to an oversight committee.
Soon after Santana’s report the committee, which had been chaired by Supervisor Janet Nguyen, was disbanded by the Board of Supervisors. According to Berardino, at the time it was disbanded the committeeÂ was just starting to uncover these issues and was being stonewalled by Mauk and Ajmani. Now it looks like we have found at least one reason why.
While I understand that Jennifer Muir was not covering the County Government beat in 2008, you would think that her editors might have mentioned this little bit of history to her. Of course, we are talking about the Orange County Register, where no good thing done by a public employee union goes noticed.
Sure, Mauk and his Keystone Managers don’t need any oversight.