Author Topic: State Attorney to Present City's IT Troubles to Grand Jury  (Read 1729 times)

thelakelander

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 30509
    • Modern Cities
State Attorney to Present City's IT Troubles to Grand Jury
« on: August 08, 2007, 06:41:41 AM »
Quote
By Grayson Kamm
First Coast News

JACKSONVILLE, FL -- State Attorney Harry Shorstein now wants a Grand Jury to look into how your tax dollars were spent by the City of Jacksonville.

Shorstein wants to know why city contracts were continually given to ProLogic, an IT company that didn't have the proper requirements.

And now we know ProLogic, which is run by Mayor John Peyton's former chief of staff, received more than half-a-million dollars worth of work from the city that it never should have gotten.

"It's a matter of great concern to the people of Jacksonville," Shorstein said. When questions swirl about spending at City Hall, Shorstein says it's time in call in the Grand Jury -- a secret panel with broad powers.

"The Grand Jury has the authority to have essentially oversight into state and local expenditures of public funds," Shorstein said.

Mayor Peyton's office has admitted that folks in the city's Information Technology Department violated policy at least a half-dozen times, giving contracts for computer help to an ineligible company run by Scott Teagle, one of Peyton's best friends and a former top aide.

Through a spokesperson Tuesday, the vacationing mayor said he welcomes any scrutiny on the issue.

If it agrees to run an investigation, the Grand Jury will act like a mighty auditor, able to find out the financial truth.

"I'm not suggesting in any way that there's any criminal wrongdoing," Shorstein insisted. "But there are concerns that the public is not being made aware of everything it should know."

And Tuesday, the price tag for taxpayers went up. On top of $357,000 paid to Teagle's company by check, city internal investigators have found another huge chunk of money had been paid out electronically.

The mayor's office says the total amount of taxpayer money improperly paid to Teagle's company, ProLogic, stands at $582,000.

Thursday will be a big day at City Hall. ProLogic did walk away from its deals with the city last week, but at a meeting Thursday, the company will officially be cut off from city business.

And Thursdays are when the Grand Jury convenes in Jacksonville.

Mayor Peyton has ordered an investigation. He appointed the former City Council auditor and the city's current deputy general counsel to present their findings to him in two weeks.

http://www.firstcoastnews.com/news/topstories/news-article.aspx?storyid=88577
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

jbm32206

  • Guest
Re: State Attorney to Present City's IT Troubles to Grand Jury
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2007, 07:56:43 AM »
I'm glad to see the media picking up on all of this, FCN and TU have done a decent job, whereas News4Jax gave it such a soft approach; of which they should be ashamed of themselves. This entire situation has seriously compromised not only the policies and regulations in place, but the overall integrity of the administration. Clearly, there's been serious violations, at the taxpayers expense.

I'm sorry, and undoubtedly not alone, in feeling uncomfortable with the mayor having anything to do with an objective investigation into what he, himself appears to be part of.

Lunican

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3889
    • MetroJacksonville.com
Re: State Attorney to Present City's IT Troubles to Grand Jury
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2007, 08:04:35 AM »
Business as usual.

jbm32206

  • Guest
Re: State Attorney to Present City's IT Troubles to Grand Jury
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2007, 11:25:53 AM »
Isn't that the sad truth!

Steve

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3243
Re: State Attorney to Present City's IT Troubles to Grand Jury
« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2007, 01:36:45 PM »
2 off jobs over city tech spending


Information officer, tech contracts overseer on leave after $12 million in payments questioned.




By Mary Kelli Palka, The Times-Union


Two high-ranking Jacksonville City Hall officials were placed on paid administrative leave Wednesday amid deepening revelations of unauthorized spending for information technology consulting services.
Since February 2004, the department spent more than three times the amount authorized by the city, according to records. The overages were missed by city officials despite at least three levels of review.

Chief Information Officer Dave Lauer and Jim Katz, who helps oversee the Information Technology Department's consulting contracts, were relieved of their duties by Mayor John Peyton after the Times-Union questioned $12 million in payments to consultants over the past several years.

Lauer said last week he was unaware that he had to stay within the $3.5 million authorized by the General Government Awards Committee. He said he never overspent his department budget, which is approved by the City Council, but he did transfer money from internal accounts to help pay 36 consulting firms over about 31/2 years.

City officials say the problem went unnoticed because there was no way of alerting city officials when overspending occurs. The city now has such a system.

Peyton, who was traveling on vacation Wednesday, will have no further comment until the completion of an internal review he ordered last week, mayoral spokeswoman Susie Wiles said.

He made the decision after the Times-Union revealed an IT consulting company owned by one of his close friends was getting more than $500,000 in city work even though it wasn't eligible.

The City Council, which is in the process of reviewing Peyton's proposed city budget for next year, will likely take a closer look at the IT department now.

"Generally, when you set a budget, which the City Council does, I assume the budget is going to be complied with," council President Daniel Davis said Wednesday.

Davis said he wants to know more information about exactly how the department moved money around to cover its expenses.

The unauthorized purchases came to light last week after the Times-Union inquired about ProLogic Consulting Inc., founded in July 2006 by Scott Teagle, Peyton's former chief of staff. ProLogic was City Hall's highest paid computer-related vendor this year though it didn't meet the city's own requirements to be in business at least three years. Teagle is also a friend of Lauer's.

Peyton abruptly canceled the contract last week and ordered the review.

Former City Council Auditor Richard Wallace, who is now a consultant for Peyton, is tabulating exactly how much was spent on the city's computer vendors.

In addition to trying to identify which city processes may not have been followed, Wiles said the internal review will also focus on whether the city disproportionately relies on outside consultants.

Every year, the awards panel that consists of representatives from the General Counsel's Office, Public Works and the Budget Office, approved vendors eligible to perform consulting services. IT was allowed unfettered discretion over which ones were actually used. At the same time, the panel approved a maximum amount the city could pay the group of vendors.

If the department wanted to exceed the amount, it needed to return to the committee, Wiles said.

That never happened.

Peyton has proposed an almost $53 million budget next year for the department, which has 200 full-time employees and a payroll of almost $12 million.

The full-timers handle day-to-day operations, such as installing laptops and radios in police vehicles and managing the city's payroll and benefits computer systems.

The city has relied on as many as 60 consultants within the past few years to supplement the work of employees and do special or short-term projects, such as consolidating the city's copiers and printers, upgrading system security and coordinating the move of the data center to a new location.

In 2005, Peyton said he would convert 45 consultants to full-time positions within Information Technology. But city officials said they had difficulty filling the spots.

If Lauer had extra money for vacant positions, he would transfer the money into his contractual services fund to pay vendors.

Though procurement director Devin Reed recommended approval of each year's vendors and the authorized amount, he said he relied upon Lauer's department to track its expenses.

He said this is the first year a computer system is in place that will raise a red flag if purchases exceed the authorized amounts.

Various officials in the Mayor's Office also had to approve the overall contract amount with computer-related vendors. But Wiles said the office depended on Procurement and Information Technology officials.

The news of the unauthorized purchases concerned City Council Finance Chairman Art Shad. He said the city has rules for a reason.

"When you don't abide by the rules and you're sloppy, it brings your integrity into question," Shad said.

The awards panel will meet today to officially terminate ProLogic's contract. Because the city has already exceeded its authorized amount to give vendors, officials will ask the panel to authorize more money for IT consulting services for 90 days, Wiles said.

mary.palka@jacksonville.com, (904) 359-4104


THE NUMBERS
Jacksonville's General Government Awards Committee approved an authorized amount each year that the Information Technology Department could spend on its consultants. If the department wanted to pay its vendors more, it needed to seek approval from the committee. That didn't happen; city office contracts were approved in February 2004 and then renewed the same month each year since. The figures below are estimates; the city is still reviewing its numbers.

Feb. 6, 2004 - Feb. 7, 2005
Authorized amount: $250,000
Amount spent: $3.5 million

Feb. 6, 2005 - Feb. 7, 2006
Authorized amount: $250,000
Amount spent: $4.4 million

Feb. 6, 2006 - Feb. 7, 2007
Authorized amount: $1.5 million
Amount spent: $2.1 million

Feb. 6, 2007 - Feb. 7, 2008
Authorized amount: $1.5 million
Amount spent: $2 million

Total authorized: $3.5 million
Total spent between Feb. 6, 2004 to Aug. 7, 2007: $12 million

Source: City consultant Richard Wallace, former City Council auditor


http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/080907/met_189907559.shtml

jbm32206

  • Guest
Re: State Attorney to Present City's IT Troubles to Grand Jury
« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2007, 08:33:00 PM »
If you check out the story on Fox30, it says that they're on leave....so it looks like they weren't fired, just sent home with pay!