Unfinished business

In addition, City Council this week asked that state Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones investigate some city employees connected with the beleaguered project.

That request was prompted by a complaint from an Oklahoma City police captain who alleges that the city manager’s office failed to order an investigation or audit after officials were told of questionable oversight of the project.

Twice, the project has had contract extensions — once in August 2010 and a second at the June 12 City Council meeting. The latter one also released the main contractor, Affiliated Computer Services (ACS), from liability as well as ACS’ $2.5 million performance bond, a surety bond put up to ensure the company’s work.

The allegations in the Sept. 14 complaint by Capt. Bradd Brown also stated that Kerry Wagnon, manager of the Public Safety Capital Project — as well as members of the city manager’s office — tried to hide or minimize information about the project from the City Council when the contract required another extension last June.

At that time, city records show, the police and municipal court records system had yet to be completed.

The city denied an Open Records Law request by Oklahoma Gazette seeking to obtain Brown’s complaint.

City officials cited an exemption in the law for documents related to employee investigations.

In the complaint, later obtained by Oklahoma Gazette, Brown alleges that the steering committee in charge of the Public Safety Capital Project failed to provide financial oversight, and that the projects have yet to be completed because the contractors already had been paid and, therefore, have no incentive to finish the work.

Brown’s complaint, which requested whistle-blower protection from retaliation, also accuses a city employee of misappropriating funds for personal gain.

City Manager Jim Couch was on vacation and unavailable for comment. Assistant City Manager M.T. Berry and Wagnon declined to discuss the investigation or address the city’s relationship and contract with ACS.

The system
In 2000, Oklahoma City voters approved a limited-purpose, 32-month, half-cent sales tax to fund police and fire equipment. New dispatch equipment and software, along with police and court records system software, was part of the plan.

Credit: Mark Hancock

The projects in question have been ongoing for eight years; the original contract was signed in September 2004 with ACS, which in turn subcontracted with a firm named SmartCop to provide communication and records software for divisions that included police and municipal courts.

During that time, the city paid ACS, which in turn paid SmartCop around $1.3 million, according to a 2007 lawsuit filed by ACS against SmartCop.

However, ACS stated in the litigation that SmartCop was writing “spaghetti code” that had numerous patches, modifications and changes, making it extremely difficult to service or maintain.

SmartCop also was accused by ACS of falsifying project status updates and lying about what it was capable of doing, with one witness in the case alleging that SmartCop’s part of the project was “smoke and mirrors,” and its code was “useless.”

ACS terminated the contract with SmartCop on Feb. 2, 2006, according to court documents, and hired a new company to take over work on the police computer-aided dispatch, records and other computer systems development.

According to the lawsuit, however, the project had to start over completely since the old code could not be used, costing ACS around $3.6 million.

At the time, ACS officials assured the city steering committee that the project would experience a delay, but would not have to begin anew.

During that Jan. 9, 2006, meeting, Wagnon said there would be “accumulating damages and additional work as a result of the delay” to the city, and told ACS representative Dan Porter that ACS would be responsible for recovering the costs from SmartCop.

It is unclear what actions, if any, the city took against ACS for the delays.

In a partial transcript of an October 2011 deposition, Wagnon said there was no talk of the city filing a claim against the performance bond — which was reduced from $5 million to $2.5 million in the August contract extension — and that the city has not sought any fines or penalties against the company.

Wagnon said in the deposition that the city would not take action against the performance bond unless costs became an issue and the contract was to be terminated.

But he said that the city did stop paying the $10,000 monthly fee to ACS on June 30, 2011, after its provision in the contract expired.

Xerox bought ACS in 2009.

Wagnon said in court records that additional costs have accumulated for the city because of the work still unfinished. Records indicate that, on an initial $18.9 million contract with ACS with $1 million set for overruns, the city had paid the company $20.7 million as of November 2011.

The June extension passed by City Council released the performance bond of ACS — now Xerox — and asked that the company negotiate with the subcontractors still working on the incomplete police and municipal courts records systems for contract extensions and to put up their own performance bonds.

The extension also relieves ACS of being the project manager and turns those duties over to the city to directly work with the subcontractors. ACS’ only duty would be to give money from the city to the subcontractors, in exchange for releasing the city for any money owed.

Clifton Adcock

This material falls under the archives category because it was imported from our previous website. It will eventually be filtered into the proper category as time allows.

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