Long-Delayed Review of DA’s Office Faces Further Delays

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Orange County’s performance audit director, Philip Cheng, is publicly calling out District Attorney Tony Rackauckas and his contractor for delays in a scheduled audit that the DA didn’t want Cheng to do.

The dispute has already cost taxpayers $50,000, with DA officials hiring their own contractor back in October who had a deadline to finish the audit by mid-January.

Back in December, Cheng said the contractor gave a February delivery date.

Now, with March underway, Cheng says the report hasn’t been delivered and that he expects more delays.

“According to the contractor’s February 2, 2015 email, the audit team was still finalizing first round interviews, so the audit scope was not yet completed. Nevertheless, in the same email, the contractor also stated that he was ‘thinking beginning of March for a final,’ ” Cheng wrote in an update to county supervisors for their meeting Tuesday.

“Apparently, the completion date of the OCDA performance audit will be delayed.”

The contractor, Thomas Altmayer of Altmayer Consulting, now has until March 31 to finish his work, under an extension approved by the DA’s office.

None of the officials involved seem interested in publicly tackling the dispute.

Altmayer referred questions about the audit to the DA’s office.

The DA’s chief spokeswoman, Susan Kang Schroeder, declined to comment on the audit issue, including whether Altmayer was chosen through a competitive bid.

And neither Cheng nor county supervisors’ Chairman Todd Spitzer returned messages seeking comment.

Rackauckas’ office was originally scheduled to be audited in 2015 but was moved up to last year at the urging of then-Supervisor John Moorlach back in December 2013.

Given the county’s loss of $73 million in property taxes to the state, supervisors like Moorlach were privately wondering what Rackauckas was doing with millions in winnings from a class-action lawsuit he initiated against Toyota.

There were also quiet questions about the fiscal implications of Rackauckas’ sex offender ordinances that have been overturned, with cities potentially seeking compensation from the county.

The current episode dates back to August, when Cheng’s staff met with DA officials to go over the scope of their performance audit.

After that meeting, DA officials stopped returning their calls to arrange the start of the audit, known as an “entrance conference.”

“We tried and tried,” Cheng later said in an October interview with Voice of OC. “Email, phone.”

A public explanation wasn’t offered by the DA’s office.

On Oct. 6, Cheng notified his bosses – the county supervisors – about the lack of cooperation.

A few days later, the DA decided to take things in a different direction.

On Oct. 17, he hired Altmayer Consulting to do the performance audit, with a $49,750 contract that was to expire on Jan. 16.

The contract is signed by Thomas Altmayer and his wife, Christina Altmayer, who serves as executive director of the Children and Families Commission of Orange County.

The consulting firm’s website listed her as president as of Monday, though Christina Altmayer says she’s not involved with the consulting work in any capacity.

(Click here to read the DA’s contract with Altmayer Consulting.  The extension is available here.)

With none of the involved parties commenting on the firm’s selection, it’s unclear how it came to be chosen for the job.  Altmayer Consulting was previously chosen by the DA’s office for a $37,500 staffing assessment contract in 2006.

In December, Thomas Altmayer told Cheng that the audit would be finished by February, according to Cheng.

But that didn’t end up being the case, Cheng says.

As of Feb. 2, Thomas Altmayer said the first round of interviews and audit scope hadn’t been finished, according to Cheng.

Cheng’s efforts to get a copy of the scope since then haven’t succeeded, he told supervisors.

County supervisors will decide Tuesday how to respond – if at all – to the issue.  The meeting starts at 9:30 a.m. at the county Hall of Administration (map).

You can reach Nick Gerda at ngerda@gmail.com, and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.

  • David Zenger

    The DA has been way overpaying for document storage space for years in an office building on Boradway that happens to be extraordinarily convenient for his employees. The County ended up renting almost all of a ten story office building instead of much cheaper space elsewhere.

    A good public expenditure? I guess we’ll never know, because that’s exactly the sort of thing a good performance auditor would validate.

    But the building’s owner, Mike Harrah must like the deal.

  • Cynthia Ward

    Curt Pringle & Associates
    February 19 at 8:21am ·
    Christina Altmayer, Executive Director of CP&A client the Children and Families Commission of Orange County, was recently featured on Time Warner Cable’s Local Edition. Check out her spot here:https://www.youtube.com/watch…
    Christina Altmayer, Executive Director, OC Children & Families Commission
    Christina Altmayer with the Orange County Children & Families Commission talks to Time Warner Cable…
    YOUTUBE.COM