Crocamo: Luzerne County IT, not consultant, will host virtual meetings

Luzerne County Acting Director Romilda Crocamo said the virtual participation option for county government meetings will now be handled internally by the IT department instead of an external vendor.

A representative for the outside vendor – New Jersey-based Paradigm Technology Consulting – informed the county on Wednesday that it could not continue to provide virtual meeting support services without a valid contract guaranteeing it would be paid, according to a Crocamo communication provided to the board.

County Councilor Walter Griffith recently discovered IT was using a consultant after reviewing a staff list and determining that the person responsible for the virtual meetings was not an employee. He questioned the ability of the IT department to incur expenses without a contract approved by the county manager and without notifying the board that a non-employee was potentially involved in closed executive sessions.

In Wednesday’s email, Paradigm said it has supported the county on several projects since 2016, including virus fixes and help desk support.

The company has provided virtual meeting assistance since September in good faith that it would be paid for as the county’s IT department experienced staff changes and shortages, he said.

Crocamo said it was compiling a tally of the dollar amount of work performed by Paradigm that was requested by IT without their permission. She also instructed the Comptroller’s Office to conduct an audit of IT department contracts, expenses and hardware / software inventory and investigate all proposed IT projects.

In a dramatic presentation on Tuesday, the county’s chief information technology officer Mauro DiMauro told the council $ 3.1 million was needed for essential tech work.

He has asked for the allocation of funds from the county’s $ 113 million US bailout, although a majority in council has delayed approving spending from that pot until the federal government issues final rules on how the money is to be spent.

DiMauro’s funding request included $ 465,000 for virtual meeting support. He said he had used all available funds to have an outside contractor organize the combined in-person / remote meetings since his IT analyst resigned in September.

If funding is not quickly identified for support for virtual meetings, DiMauro said the county will have to return only to in-person meetings or accept that its existing staff will have to forgo other urgent tasks to manage the task.

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