Feb. 11--Orange County's chief information officer announced his retirement Monday, a development that came during a critical period for county information technology.
Mahesh Patel's departure comes as Xerox and other outside contractors are carrying out a $300 million overhaul of the county's phone and computer networks.
Patel, whose last day will be March 6, emailed an announcement to county employees. He has worked at the county since 1992, and in this role since August 2011.
"My reasons are purely personal and I believe this is the right time for me to make a change," Patel later wrote in an email to the Register.
One of the largest single contracts at the county, the $132 millionXerox contract took two-and-a-half years to negotiate and drew criticism from some supervisors. It was ultimately approved in September, for $26 million more than Xerox's final 2012 bid.
The Xerox contract was the latest in a string of IT controversies, many of which started before Patel took command of the department. The county, like the federal government and other municipalities, has experienced large IT mishaps in recent years.
Officials sued Tata Consulting Services alleging fraud in April 2013 after the county spent $15.4 million on a property tax computer system with an allegedly faulty code. That contracting process started in 2008.
Patel was assistant CIO from 2008 through early 2011. His predecessor retired in 2010 after the internal auditor skewered the IT department for being disorganized and for making $45 million of no-bid contracts, among other problems.
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