Tuesday, September 11, 2012

County IT Employee Fired for Overpaying on No-Bid Contract

Posted By on Tue, Sep 11, 2012 at 4:13 PM

On paper, thats a very expensive piece of machinery.
  • On paper, that's a very expensive piece of machinery.

Institutional idiocy was the name of the game back in the pre-charter- reform Cuyahoga county IT department. According to reports from the early days of the Ed FitzGerald administration, just as the new bosses were sizing up the mess they'd inherited, under the previous government the county-paid computer geeks were hording unused software, an excess of printers, and a mismatch of computers and servers. Now, new findings show at least once instant of spectacular ball-dropping might have cost tax payers more than $200,000.

The latest findings come after the firing of John Hunter, the former head of the Information Services Center. According to the Plain Dealer, the $98,000-a-year public employee hired under Frank Russo was let go after a 13-month investigation conducted by the county's Inspector General Nailah Byrd.

The firing offense stems from a no-bid contract for new servers Hunter entered into with a Youngstown-based company in March 2011. The price tag was $518,000. But then, after the new administration took the steering wheel:

A month later, new county Chief Information Officer Jeff Mowry competitively bid the servers and got a $281,000 price. The county had to pay $10,000 to return the servers Hunter bought, according to a termination letter (PDF) from human resources Director Elise Hara.

"It was worse than poor judgment," Hara said in an interview Monday. "The crisis was averted, but clearly we still spent money we wouldn't have, but not for his actions."

Suspicious, right? The PD reports the county has handed their information over to law enforcement.

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