Most of the internal service divisions do their best to stay out of the limelight. However, apparently the Information Technologies Division didn?t get the message. Like a referee in professional sports, if you take notice of them, it probably isn?t good.
The city's IT Department was noticed big time in the last couple of weeks, after it was discovered that the city has spent $12 million in the last three years on IT contracting services, despite budgeting only $3.5 million. This came after it was discovered that much of that money was being funneled to the city's former chief of staff.
The IT Department (or ITD as its referred to in city government circles), is now light their two top people, Chief Information Office Dave Lauer and right hand man Jim Katz, or in salary terms, $210, 354 per year in salary, plus benefits, time off, and the usual perks of white-collar city employment. This came after it was discovered that ITD had been funneling contractor jobs to a tech firm called ProLogic, owned by Mayor John Peytons close friend, Scott Teagle (they were close enough friends that Teagle first set up shop in office space in the headquarters of Gate Petroleum, Peyton's Daddy's company).
This comes just a year after the Jacksonville Business Journal wrote a fluff piece about how Dave Lauer has "helped transform one of the city's historically dysfunctional agencies into a full-service information technology department" (you can read this piece of hard hitting journalism here: http://jacksonville.bizjournals.com/jacksonville/stories/2006/05/29/story7.html
It didnt seem to be a problem that ProLogic didnt meet the minimum requirements established by the city for technology vendors. All vendors must be in business for three years, with audited financials to prove it. Somehow, ProLogic managed to get the contracts anyway.
Peyton said that despite the way it looks, Teagle has integrity, and that he wants his staff to investigate before he comments further. Certainly all involved are entitled to the due process that the law provides, but wow, this looks good, doesnt it?
Now that the top two in the IT department have resigned, watch the Peyton administration attempt to throw all blame for this to them, despite the fact that it would have been a lot of work for two people to pull this off themselves.
When a tech firm wants to get city business, the firm must apply to be added to the list of approved vendors. Once these vendors have been investigated, this list must be passed to the Procurement Department, who authorizes all awards and payments for these services. When ITD wants to hire a contractor, they send out notification to all of the vendors on the list (I wonder if these jobs that ProLogic were awarded were sent to the other vendors??). Once they received the proposals back from the vendors that chose to bid on the job, they need to present their selection to the Procurement Department to receive an award for the contract. Once an award is given, they can then hire the person. When the person needs to be paid, ITD contacts Procurement, to authorize payment, and Procurement contacts the Accounting Division to actually cut the check.
Now, there are some details left out so this didnt take up pages, but the point is that this must have been a colossal effort for two guys to pull this off by themselves, without anyone being aware of this going on.
These and other questions will be asked by State Attorney Harry Shorstein and his staff. Dont expect this process to be quick, but expect those in government to put as much blame as humanly possible on Lauer and Katz, now that they are the exiles of City Government (I wonder where they were when Kennedy was assassinated).
When you start seeing the bills for Peyton's new garbage fees and other taxes, you can rest easy knowing that the Mayor's Office is being a good steward of your tax dollars.