Duping your employees the AOC way

Posted on December 9, 2010

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This is a little background about how the issue of stimulus funds became an issue.

When the stimulus funding was announced a team of mid-level AOC employees got together and devised a project that would have updated and interconnected the building management systems of all courthouses throughout the state. This team went to OCCM management and indicated that this project, the entire cost of which could have been covered by a department of energy grant, was critical to the long term success of the branch in managing its real estate assets, reducing energy and complying with new codes. OCCM management could not dispute that so they agreed to move forward and do the preliminary work necessary to secure the funding.

This team was assured for over a year that both the federal funds and this vision was being pursued, with the preliminary ground work being done by the service providers in surveying and documenting every real estate asset. This task took a seemingly incredible amount of time to conduct when these AOC employees knew that there was a window. Periodic inquiries about the survey progression always got the reply that management was still working with the vendor for the preliminary groundwork necessary to flush out the entire plan and to know what needs updating or replacement as to make those 530+ buildings energy efficient.

Months passed with regular inquiries and the same “not ready/don’t have the necessary information gathered” answers. Months turned into a year. And then, suddenly the door was shut on federal stimulus grants related to the American Reinvestment & Recovery Act. The project died an untimely death when management later returned after the window closed and indicated there was no way to fund the project, knowing that, going into the project, stimulus funds were being sought to pay for the entire project.  

AOC-OCCM management duped these employees into believing that they were in pursuit of federal stimulus funds to fund the project and that they were already working with the “service providers” to do the preliminary ground work necessary to get the project off the ground. When these mid-level employees looked into what eligible projects did get funded (and it is amazing how recovery.gov spells out where the money was spent and on what and who was the grantee) these mid-level employees could not find a single judicial branch construction project that had captured stimulus funds and were summarily shocked. They had heard recovery.gov was months behind in updating, so they waited the extra months to see if anything related to the AOC or Judicial Council would materialize.

They and many others had been duped into believing that AOC management was pursuing these federal funds for future projects and watched the window open and close on a project that held the promise of drastically reducing the judicial branch’s carbon footprint and energy bills by making courthouse heating, lighting and ventilation systems work more efficiently, with state-of-the-art control systems.

The people who defined and were trying to seek the tens of millions of dollars in federal funding to complete the project and were lofting the idea to management are a group of current and a group of former AOC employees, whom the AOC is now trying valiantly to bust out of the agency to ensure they are all former (and by virtue, disgruntled) employees. When they confronted the facilities management unit with it all they got in response was blank stares, dumb looks like no one knew what they were talking about and pin-drop silence. One of lead members of that team was Michael Paul, who took the allegation public. And on that note we have three new inductees onto the Judicial Branch Wall of Shame.

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