Plans to hire security guards to patrol and monitor facilities managed by the Riverside County Department of Information Technology came under fire during this week's meeting of the Board of Supervisors, with even the county CEO distancing himself from the $250,000-a-year proposal.
"I was gone last week and only just saw this on the agenda," CEO Jay Orr told the board. "I have serious questions, very serious concerns, about whether this is needed."
Chief Information Officer Kevin Crawford submitted the proposed contract with Riverside-based An Extreme Security Inc., citing the need for unarmed security personnel to "reduce the potential of unauthorized entry, vandalism and theft" at the Innovation Center in downtown Riverside, the Collaboration Center in the Riverside Technology Park and the Alternate Emergency Operations Center in Indio.
"Security services will help protect important county communication and enterprise systems and create a safe and secure environment for staff, visitors, clients and business partners," Crawford said in documents posted to the board's policy agenda.
The proposed agreement with An Extreme Security, which was selected from among 25 firms that submitted bids for the work, calls for guards at each location, 24 hours a day. The annual fiscal year cost would be $254,000, with the option to extending the contract out over four years, Crawford said.
County government watchdog Paul Jacobs of Temecula pounced on the proposal as an example of a wayward "spending scheme."
"One astonishing aspect of this is that the IT department did not consider cameras," Jacobs told the board. "Use technology to save money. This proposal should be denied, and IT should put out bids for security systems instead."
Jacobs has been a frequent critic of IT-related expenditures, about which he has regularly expressed concerns since Crawford was appointed CIO in December 2011. During Crawford's watch, the county spent $30 million to purchase the downtown Riverside building that formerly served as headquarters for the Press-Enterprise newspaper.
The complex was originally intended as a data hub, where IT services would be centralized. But after Crawford and other county officials determined reconfiguring the 150,000-square-foot space would be impractical, the centralization idea was abandoned for the PE building.
Instead, the county signed a 10-year, $14 million lease to anchor data storage operations at a building on Chicago Avenue previously occupied by Acorn Technology Corp.
Crawford last year proposed establishing a full-service media production facility at the P-E building, but the board declined to consider the idea while the Department of Information Technology continues to undergo a major consolidation intended to put disparate IT operations under one roof.
Supervisor Kevin Jeffries said spending general fund dollars on security guards was hard to justify when "there's no money to water the lawns" in parks within his district.
"We're fighting for every dime," Jeffries said. "Let's dive a little deeper into this to see if it's really needed."
On Orr's recommendation, the board temporarily tabled the proposed contract with An Extreme Security, which the CEO said his staff would vet more closely.
– City News Service.