Friday, September 18, 2009

A turd by any other name....

....still smells like a turd.

I am currently reading the OIG report on the OIG....so let's do it together....because together we're heavy.

Here is the amount spent on the computers:


I'm no accountant...just ask my wife, but according to my trusty dusty electronic abacus, all computer related expenses add up to $436,188. For 33 employees that comes out to $13,217.82 per employee. But I am assuming that is including centralized servers, networking equipment like secure routers, encryption software, etc. That may be a little high, but I don't think its "extravagant" by any means.

The bigger question is where in the hell did Odom originally come up with the 600k figure? Am I missing something or was he just rounding up to an extra 25%?

The main beef regarding the computer systems doesn't seem to be any collusion with Sparkhound (the Baton Rouge based IT firm who spec'd and built the IG's IT department), it seems to be a lack of competence in purchasing:

• Sparkhound recommended one media license of Microsoft Office Ultimate 2007 but
instead 86 individual licenses were ordered at a cost $575.99 each for a total of
$49,535.14.

• Sparkhound recommended one media license of Windows Vista Business but instead 86
individual licenses were ordered at a cost of $121.93 each or a total of $10,485.09.

Uhhhhh.....there could be a valid reason for these two desicions. I would want to understand that decision a little more before I pass judgement.

• Sparkhound suggested specific encryption software and the employees ordered the
incorrect encryption software. The software company will not allow the OIG to return the
incorrect software which cost $10,992.00.

oops. bad call. somebody fucked up.

• Sparkhound specified the 2005 SQL Server software and the employees ordered the 2008
SQL Server software at a cost of $3,742.78 which was incompatible with other software
that had been installed.

Common error. I've seen this happen before regarding Microsoft server 2003, 2005, and 2008 and 32bit to 64 bit updates which I suspect is what may have happened here regarding this unnamed software. If the purchaser wasn't aware of the technical issues with software purchases this doesn't surprise me. Ok...so somebody was given a job that was a little over their head. That happens in any start up....and the OIG office is a frikkin' start up.

• The Sparkhound software requirements included the purchase of SNARE; however, the
employees failed to order this critical software in 2008. The software, which cost
$10,620.00, was placed in 2009 after IG Cerasoli had given back the $1.2 million to the
City.

The report keeps simultaneously harping on the fact that Cerasoli gave back the 1.2 million and then rails on him for overspending. Every paragraph ends with the statment "after he gave back the 1.2 million". So I guess I'm a little confused....is the overall allegation that he gave away money which was actually needed or that he spent money unnecessarily? Was he a drunken sailor or a miser? I'm not sure what the point is.

• Sparkhound recommended the purchase of 50 LTO4-120 Back-up Tapes for the Power
Vault TL2000; however, the employees failed to place the order for the back-up tapes.
The back-up tapes were not ordered in 2008. Accordingly, the tapes were purchased in
2009 after IG Cerasoli had given back the $1.2 million to the City.

Ok...do the tapes work now?

• Sparkhound's plan included the purchase of 5 switches. The OIG only ordered 4 and
failed to order the 5th. The 5th switch was ordered on 3/02/09 at a cost of $2,444.15 after
IG Cerasoli had given back the $1.2 million to the City.

• As a result of IG Cerasoli increasing the number of computers ordered from the
recommended 20 laptops to 32 laptops and increasing the number of desktops ordered
from the recommended 12 to 54 desktop computers there is a significant amount of
inventory that remains on the shelf in the evidence room. There is a potential risk that this
equipment will become obsolete.

Well, all computers become obsolete within 2 years. So the question here is why Cerasoli increased the amount of computers by 12? Did he expect the office to grow? If he only ordered the 20 computers and he came up short...would the report still be criticizing him in the same way if he under-ordered computer purchases like the under-ordering of the switch listed above?

• The employees placed an order was for 86 battery back-ups for all laptops and desktops
at a cost of $53.99 each, or $4,643.14. The OIG leases office space in the Federal
Reserve Bank building which has its own back-up generator for the entire building in the
event there is a loss of power. This renders the vast majority of these battery back-ups
unnecessary and they are currently housed and unused on a shelf in the evidence room.
There were issues that arose during the installation phase as a result of the employees' lack of
expertise. A few issues that we discovered are as follows:

eehhhhh....no. Not. The building back up generators don't ensure stable power supplies to the individual computers which may hold some seriously important information. If the electricity in the building goes out, it will only take a fraction of a second to 1. crash the computers and 2. potentially surge the computers and fry the motherboards. This is a very weak argument.

• The original Sparkhound plan was to outfit the entire office with the necessary cable for
internet and phone. At cable installation, an IG employee provided a map to the
electrical subcontractor which reduced the number of workspaces to be wired to only 19.
As the office staff grew, it was necessary to have the electrical subcontractor return on
10 multiple occasions to perform the task of running cable to other workstations thus driving
up the cost of installation. Critical areas such as the Evidence Room and the IG's office
still do not have the necessary cable run to perform the basic functions of phone and
internet.

Lack of foresight is the issue?

The PGP encryption software for the desk tops and laptops was ordered on December 18,
2008, and arrived on January 14, 2009; however, Sparkhound was not able to install the
encryption software until July, 2009, because the IG's office was not informed by the
ERB employee that the software had arrived.

Why is that? Sparkhound was too busy for 6 full months to conduct the installation? So the issue here is miscommunication?

OIG WEBSITE

Robert Cerasoli personally purchased the domain name NOLAOIG.COM while he was an
employee of the City. It has been alleged that one of IG Cerasoli's hobbies was collecting
domain names. The price to register this domain name is approximately $10 with a $10 annual
renewal rate.

His hobby is collecting domain names? Really? Isn't this the same guy who slept on the floor without a TV in his apartment?

IG Cerasoli resigned his position as IG on January 30, 2009. It has been alleged that former IG
Cerasoli initially agreed to sign over the domain name NOLAOIG.COM to the OIG; however,
Former IG Cerasoli subsequently refused to sell the domain name to the OIG and refused to sign
the necessary paperwork to allow the OIG to obtain the certificate for the encryption algorithm.

OBSERVATION
There is a potential for conflict of interest related to Robert Cerasoli's purchase of the
intellectual property, N0LA0IG.COM, in his personal name as opposed to the name of the
office for which he was in-charge.

Subsequent to the departure of IG Cerasoli, the ERB employee and the OIG employee placed in
charge of the computer system requested Sparkhound set up a stand-up server and several
workstations in order to permit staff to begin working. Sparkhound advised against an early set
up of the computer system and instead recommended waiting for the computer equipment to
arrive to avoid unnecessary problems and costs. The ERB employee and the OIG employee did
not follow the advice of Sparkhound and initiated the early set-up. As part of the early set-up
process, the ERB employee and the OIG employee directed Sparkhound to program the server
with NOLAOIG.COM despite the fact that this domain name was owned personally by former
IG Cerasoli.

When the former IG refused to cooperate regarding the transference of the domain name
N0LA0IG.COM all the servers had to be reprogrammed with a different domain name,
NOLAOIG.ORG, which resulted in an additional cost to the OIG of approximately $13,125.

Holy shit! I want that job. 13 grand to change a domain name....fucking eh! Somebody scored on that one. Who did that, Netmethods?

OBSERVATION

It has come to our attention that as an agency within the City of New Orleans, the OIG and the
ERB are permitted to mail any documents from City Hall for free. The Interim Inspector
General is in the process of returning the leased equipment and obtaining a refund for the unusedpre-paid postage which is in excess of $19,950.

Just out of curiosity...how does that mail process work at City Hall? Do you drop your mail in a huge mail slot and it all goes to the mail room? Just curious? What if the IG did an investigation on the mail room in City Hall and they sent the report out via the mail room in City Hall?

INVESTIGATIVE EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLIES

IG Cerasoli sent a Criminal Investigator from the OIG office to visit the Department of
Investigations for New York City to gain information about ordering investigative supplies and
equipment for the OIG. The Criminal Investigator compiled a list of investigative equipment
and supplies to be ordered based on information gathered during the course of his visit.

OBSERVATION

It has come to our attention that the First Assistant Inspector General for Criminal Investigations and the First Assistant Inspector General for Audit and Review analyzed the order prior to
placement and recommended that 80% of the order be cancelled as it was promulgated on
information obtained from an agency that is not comparable in size, scope or jurisdiction to the
City of New Orleans OIG. However, IG Cerasoli chose to disregard the recommendations made
by his two First Assistants and IG Cerasoli placed an order for $50,774 of investigative
equipment and $23,314 of investigative supplies. There is a potential risk that much of this
equipment may not be used the Criminal Investigations Division.

So we didn't need 40 pairs of shoe phones? hmmm. This one is impossible to call. If you don't use all that spy schweg, send it to me....I'll use it....I'll go spy on Entergy.

OBSERVATION

It has come to our attention that IG Cerasoli canceled the purchase of the 3 SUV's in conjunction
with the issuance of his first report related to the management of the City's passenger vehicle
fleet and prior to returning the $1.2 million to the City. As the OIG had an immediate
requirement for vehicles in order to effectively perform its lawful duties and carry out
operational activities, the Interim IG reordered the 3 vehicles. The cost of the vehicles was
$72,853.75 and the Interim IG utilized funds from the 2009 operating budget.

He's guilty of being concerned of a potential conflict of interest. Then he changed his mind and bought them anyway.

Wow....that's it? I think the most egregious offense could be the nepotism charge in hiring one of his former students. But Cannizaro just did the same thing in the D.A.'s office with his daughter and there's not a lot of stink about that. Plus...some other names....Anthony Jones....Kenya Smith.

I think Cerasoli, himself, summed it up best:

"There are all sorts of allegations in the report that don't really hold any water. They had eight months to do reports. They only did one -- on me."

Correction: A man much more vigilant than I pointed out Cannizaro's daughter was already working in the DA's office before he won the position. Thanks, Clay.

By the way..I was by your house today and you have this very awesome spider web outside your door which was spun by one of those really peculiar little fat, round arachnids. You know I have a thing for spiders and snakes...would love it if you took a macro picture of it and posted it so we could search the intertubes and find out what it is. Not that you don't have enough to worry about with the broken ankle...ouch....sorry bro.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your patience/rage, AZ.

Clay said...

I work for an engineering firm where we designed our own backup system. It's one of the best in the city, but we still have battery backups on all critical computers (the draftsmen, primarily). System-wide backups are never as reliable as a simple battery backup that gives a few seconds to save your work.

One thing with Cannizarro: his daughter was already working for the DA's office before he started.

Kelly said...

This is such a little bit of your post but I'm pretty sure that Cannizaro's daughter is working for no paycheck while her dad is DA.

The computer waste is disconcerting but no where near as bad as first stated. Thanks for breaking it all down.

Whirlygurl said...

The IG is a terrible idea anyway.
You are givng one person power to investigate elected officials at will. We just have to do a better job electing people. Not layer another process that will slow things down. Case in point. Zombie is Mayor. We all know he is a stand up guy. He issues an RFP for potholes. The IG is monitoring the RFP process. The IG's cousins brother in law is a contractor. The IG tells Zombie that he would like him to hire his favorite contractor. Mayor Zombie tells the IG that this is a bid process. The IG tells Mayor Zombie that he noticed that there was something fishy in another area of government and he was going to launch an investigation. Does Zombie allow the next year of his administration fighting a frivilous investigation that has no merit and will tarnish his name or does he cave? I mean who's to say the IG will be any more ethical or moral than those we elect. It just gives one section too much power, and they don't fit under Legislative, Administrative or Judicial branches. All in all I think the public embraced this because we always embrace anyone from out of town that is going to save us, but don't they always disapoint? It just seems redundant. Who overseas the IG? How many layers of watchdogs do we really need? Just food for thought. But I like the sound of Mayor Zombie.

Anonymous said...

I imagine this report would have never seen the light of day if the auditors who wrote the report had bothered to ask Cerasoli, the ERB employee, other OIG employees involved or Sparkhound for some kind of explanation. And now this is the basis for protest by the NAA fucking CP? Weeeeak.

What kind of petty assholes did Odom, Moody and these rogue auditors have to be to send this out and call for external investigations before doing anything resembling a proper internal investigation?

Would these clowns have "investigated" the IT department and complained if the department hadn't gone over budget?

A major case of office sabotage FAIL.

jeffrey said...

Regarding the repeated "after Cerasoli had given back the $1.2 million" line. I think the point is to say that the gesture was a political ploy by Cerasoli to appear like a responsible steward of public money at a politically sensitive time. Remember the 1.2 mil was returned during a rancorous and public argument about the 2009 operating budget. I believe the report intends to demonstrate the hollowness of the gesture by noting that the IG's office went on to engage in reckless and questionable spending.

Still in all I have to agree with Whirlygurl here. Government "corruption" (in its widely varying degrees) is only going to be reduced (or made more benign) by a political process that demands competence and responsiveness first and then worries about nitpicking over ethics later.

Creating an entire city office with the potential to poison the process with an endless progression of Starr reports was always going to be more of an obstacle than a solution.

NOLA Trey said...

Wow! I now realize I need to charge way more for my IT infrastructure work!

Clay said...

There used to be two twin spiders. One got knocked down in a storm (or a destructive-minded passerby).

The other one is getting fat off mosquitoes and assorted insects, which is good because something has been eating our Candice's basil and the parsley is completely kaput.

Clay said...

The spider is also some sort of orb web, but I don't know exactly what. It's yellow and black with a big body and short legs.

Dambala said...

J,

Ok but I think we're in crisis mode. I'd love to think we had a functioning government in place which didn't need someone looking over their shoulder, but unfortunately I think we're a goddamn train wreck and we're in crisis mode.

So if you give me the IG for 4 years...through the next administration shift, even 3 years...I'll be all on board for eliminating the IG office.

I think it's an entity which should work its way out of a job, but right now we need them.

Help me understand why we don't need an IG.

Dambala said...

C,

take a picture man. take a macro shot of that thing, it looks like a bulldog spider. It's body is huge in proportion to its legs.

Anonymous said...

"all the servers had to be reprogrammed with a different domain name, NOLAOIG.ORG, which resulted in an additional cost to the OIG of approximately $13,125."

the report authors' language deosnt make any damn sense here. are they talking internal domain servers? or chaning an external website's domain name? both?

where do they get this figure? it costs next to nothing to register a new domain name. then you pay your IT goober to point it to your existing server. why is this THIRTEEN-FUCKING-THOUSAND DOLLARS?

clearly, it aint.

if the authors cant get a grasp of something kinda simple like this, how can they be credited with ANYTHING they wrote?

more ignorance.

mominem said...

Thanks for doing this. I was going to do something similar and dure to my own inertia, you didi it for me.

One point on Backups, and I am somewhat familiar with the building the OIG is in. The Generators are typical commercial generators whihc take on average 5 seconds to come on after a power outage. Unless there is a UPS in place all computers will lose power and suffer potential lost data.

Since Cerasol returned 1.2 million dollars the delayed charges amount to only $$13,064.15

As for the Vehicles I beleive that Dr. Hatfield made public ststements about settign up some kind of vehicle pool.