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Technology Officer, Under Fire, Resigns

Dan Hatton had been chastised by the Board of Supervisors for not informing it of O.C.'s data storage problem.

June 03, 2005|Jean O. Pasco | Times Staff Writer

Orange County's embattled technology chief resigned Thursday, saying he planned to return to private business.

Chief Information Officer Dan Hatton was scolded by the Board of Supervisors last month for failing to warn officials that the county's data storage was nearly full.

The space crunch prompted the county's computer contractor to buy a $5.8-million mainframe computer, for which the county retroactively was billed an initial $2.8 million in lease payments. The rest will be paid over two years.

"He got an awful lot of heat from the board, so I guess I'm not surprised that he resigned," board Chairman Bill Campbell said Thursday. "His judgment was being called into question so much. I think he just didn't consider it part of the deal to put up with the five of us. I'm sorry to see him go."

Hatton couldn't be reached late Thursday for comment.

He told supervisors last month that he knew Dallas-based Affiliated Computer Services Inc. bought the computer on its own but didn't tell the board. The computer was needed, he said, to avoid delays while preparing for the June 30 end of the fiscal year and the annual preparation of property tax rolls.

Leasing the equipment rather than buying it outright saved the county $1 million, he said. "I'm accepting responsibility for the things I did and did not do," Hatton told the board last month.

The resignation came as county executives were finally rebuilding greater stability within county government.

Since January 2003, seven other top county officials have retired or resigned and were replaced: the county executive officer, the chief financial officer, the director of planning, the chiefs of the social services and community services agencies, the public defender and the registrar of voters. Hatton was hired in January 2003.

County Executive Officer Thomas G. Mauk accepted Hatton's resignation, effective June 17. He said Hatton worked hard to resolve nagging issues with a $17-million computer system purchased to bill the state for medical bills of the indigent -- problems he inherited. Bills finally began being successfully sent in April, nearly three years late.

The computer system, designed by Cerner Corp. of Kansas City, Mo., was supposed to have begun sending medical bills for state reimbursement in July 2002. Glitches postponed its start-up until September 2003, when the system finally debuted and immediately malfunctioned.

The county was forced to prepare medical bills for its healthcare services by logging information into an outdated and faulty computer system.

Decisions about filling the chief information officer position will be made within two weeks, Mauk said.

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