Audit finds ex-official in NY pressured CA Inc.

A dispute between Islandia-based CA Inc., above, and A dispute between Islandia-based CA Inc., above, and Rico Singleton, a former state technology agency official, has been referred to the Joint Commission on Public Ethics. (April 6, 2010) Photo Credit: James A. Escher

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ALBANY - A former state official improperly pressured Islandia-based CA Inc. into agreeing to more than $220,000 in discounts for future work, the state comptroller's office said Tuesday.

An audit by Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said the state Office for Technology's former deputy chief information officer, Rico Singleton, told the company if it didn't agree to the discounts it would be effectively blacklisted.

The audit also found other problems and potential ethics violations at the agency, which seeks to improve information technology infrastructure and offer services to state agencies and local governments. Among accusations against Singleton were that he improperly used his position to get his girlfriend a job at a software company he hired to do work for the state.

"These officials were supposed to lead New York State's efforts to modernize technology, but my office found flagrant misconduct," DiNapoli said in a news release. The agency suffered a "systemic breakdown in agency ethics," DiNapoli said.

Singleton on Tuesday resigned as chief information officer for the City of Baltimore, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said. She called the information in DiNapoli's audit "deeply troubling," and said it had been unknown until Tuesday.

Earlier in the day a person who answered Singleton's phone at the Baltimore agency said he was unreachable.

The dispute with CA dates to 2008, when Singleton hired the company to overhaul the technology agency's procurement system. CA, formerly Computer Associates, is a software engineering firm.

Singleton required that CA operate as a subcontractor to an upstate firm, Currier McCabe & Associates, the audit said. The $1.05-million contract then was put out to bid with "an extremely short response time" that failed to attract other bidders.

When the project failed in 2009 due to poor planning, Singleton told the companies the contract would be canceled "for cause," a designation that would make it more difficult for them to get future work. While neither company was paid for the work already completed, Singleton told them the state could remove the "for cause" designation if they credited money for future work, the audit said.

CA officials said they felt "held hostage" and eventually agreed to credit the state $222,743, the audit said. CMA refused, calling it "extortion."

The case has been referred to the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics.

Office for Technology spokeswoman Angela Liotta said the agency recognizes "the seriousness of the misconduct" of Singleton, who left in 2010, and would institute stronger internal controls.

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