© 2024 Innovation Trail

Audit slams New York IT agency for 'flagrant misconduct'

The audit charges the state's Information Technology agency with wasting taxpayer money.
via Flickr
The audit charges the state's Information Technology agency with wasting taxpayer money.

The State Comptroller’s office has released a harshly-worded audit of the state Office for Technology (OFT), slamming the agency for favoritism and conflicts-of-interest in the awarding of state contracts.

Auditors say the abuses were, “flagrant, significant, and not well-hidden.”

OFT is responsible for handling the state government’s IT services.

Much of the audit focuses on OFT’s former deputy chief information officer, Rico Singleton, who’s accused of mishandling a state contract with the computer security company, McAfee, and wasting $1.5 million in taxpayer funds.

Mark Johnson is a spokesman for the Comptroller’s office. He says the audit uncovered serious ethics violations by Singleton.

“Investigators also found at the same time he was negotiating the contract, Mr. Singleton was in fact trying to secure a job for his girlfriend with [McAfee], and was also later on trying to get a job for himself with the company.”

But problems at the agency didn’t stop with Singleton, according to the audit:

We found a culture, emanating from the highest levels of the agency, that disregarded the New York State Finance Law, the State’s Procurement Guidelines and OFT’s own procurement policies.

Johnson added that OFT staffers weren’t always cooperative during the audit.

“They made us go through additional roadblocks when trying find out facts of these cases,” he says.

In a written statement, OFT acknowledged Singleton’s misconduct, and responded by saying, in part:

In consideration of the Comptroller’s recommendations, OFT will institute stronger internal controls.

It goes on to note:

Going forward, OFT will require staff to document to its Contracts, Procurement and Finance office compliance with all procurement planning and purchasing procedures at the time a procurement is proposed. Additionally, OFT will be expanding its ethics and procurement lobbying law training.

Update 6:25 p.m.: The Times Union reports that Rico Singleton resigned from his new job as the IT chief for the City of Baltimore earlier today in the wake of the Comptroller’s audit.

WMHT/Capital Region reporter for the Innovation Trail.
Related Content