Contracts for technology services awarded to a private firm in Orange County, New York, are drawing scrutiny from state legislators after an alleged conflict of interest was discovered between the contracted company’s owner and the county’s human resources coordinator.
During a press conference last Wednesday, State Sen. James Skoufis called for the resignation Langdon Chapman, Orange County’s HR coordinator, after he allegedly awarded three contracts for IT services to StarCIO, a private tech firm owned by his brother-in-law, Issac Sacolick.
“We are here today to unravel a deeply unethical, allegedly criminal web of lies, deceit and corruption that was engineered to enrich the family of the County Executive’s righthand man, Langdon Chapman,” Skoufis said at the press conference. “Mr. Chapman and his co-conspirators engaged in a no-bid scheme with incredible impunity all towards one singular goal: the alleged theft of taxpayer funds.”
At the beginning of the year, the Orange County Department of Information Technology was without a director following its separation from the county’s Department of General Services in August. Sacolick, the owner and sole employee of StarCIO, was contracted by the county to serve as the transitional chief information officer, the Times Herald-Record reported.
The three contracts awarded to StarCIO since the beginning of the year — which according to documents provided to StateScoop by Skoufis’ camp totaled $822,900 — were each designated by the county as “professional services.” Skoufis claimed that this loophole allowed the county to sidestep the requirement for it to open a request for proposals or request bids from other companies.
Even so, a New York state law requires that no-bid contracts remain under $100,000, regardless of classification. The first contract amounted to $65,000 and it was renewed once. The following two contracts were for $478,400 and $208,000. The county awarded StarCIO an additional $6,500 for licensing and support of a project management tool.
Skoufis also claimed that the county government back-dated two competing bids for transitional services from Gartner Research Services and Securance Consulting. Emails Skoufis’ camp provided to StateScoop show Gartner Research Services never submitted a proposal to the county, and Securance wasn’t contacted until August about CIO services — several months after StarCIO’s initial contract began.
StateScoop reached out to Orange County officials, who emailed a comment from County Attorney Rick Golden.
“Contrary to Sen. Skoufis’ allegation, there is no ‘corruption scandal’ regarding the awarding of the StarCIO contract for Information Technology professional services. The County has rebutted all of the material allegations of Sen. Skoufis regarding this contract, he simply refuses to acknowledge the facts,” Golden said.
Golden added that the contracts were “competitively procured in accordance with the law,” and lambasted Skoufis for ignoring the “well-accepted practice” of professional service contracts going without bids.
“Also, the fact that a professional service provider has a relative in the County does not disqualify the professional service. The disqualification of a professional service provider only occurs if the related county officer or employee is directly or indirectly involved in the selection of the professional service provider, which did not occur here,” Golden wrote.
Golden added that the IT services outsourced to StarCIO will soon be replaced by a county-hired chief information technology officer.