Task force probing controversial Orange County contract gets third whistleblower document load

Members of a special task force looking into a six-figure contract that went to the Orange County human resources commissioner's brother-in-law say they have received new information from a whistleblower.
The task force, comprised of four county legislators, has been investigating a no-bid contract given to HR Commissioner Langdon Chapmans brother-in-law, Isaac Sacolick of StarCIO.
Members were planning to finalize a report Monday but held off to go through numerous procurement documents provided by the whistleblower.
"That person provided a stack of contracts that the county has with certain computer vendors," task force chairman Kevin Hines said. "We're going to get the documents from the executive side of the house and see what's there."
In January, Chapman recommended Sacolick to the county's operations manager to assess the county's ailing, outdated IT system.
The original contract was for Sacolick to spend two months assessing the county's IT security and receive $65,000 from the county. The contract was renewed several times, running up a bill of nearly $500,000.
County Attorney Richard Golden said at a Nov. 20 task force meeting and again on Monday that the procurement of Sacolick's contract did follow county procurement policy, but added Monday that the policy is flawed.
"Policies can be tightened up with respect to that," he said, "altered in some respects to allow less leeway."
Golden said contracts initially under $100,000 do not require a competitive bidding process, per county policy, and those contracts can be renewed without being put out for bid, even if the total exceeds $100,000.
Since October, state Sen. James Skoufis and four county legislators have been calling for Chapman to resign. Skoufis said his office received information about Sacolick's contract from an inside source.
Chapman told the task force Skoufis is politically motivated.
"We laid out facts," Skoufis said Monday over the phone. "We didn't say one thing political."
Skoufis released a summary of his findings early Monday morning and said he will forward the summary to the FBI.Skoufis said the county's top leaders will soon have a decision before them.
"They can either stand with Langdon Chapman or they can stand with the taxpayers. They can't stand with both," Skoufis said. "And if they pick Langdon Chapman and don't fire him if he doesn't resign, then they've just thrown taxpayers under the bus."
Golden said Monday that County Executive Steve Neuhaus is assembling a team which will examine procurement policy and suggest policy changes.
Skoufis said he has received numerous additional tips from county employees who may have seen other improper dealings in county government and will thoroughly look into each one.
The special task force has not yet set a date for a new meeting to finalize their report. The chairman said the task force may have to hear further testimony, depending on what they learn from the stack of contracts.
This was the third time a whistleblower approached local government officials with information relating to contract procurement policy since the task force was formed. Task force members do not know who the whistleblower is.
They said they also do not know whether the three complaints came from multiple whistleblowers or from the same whistleblower.

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