Dallas City IT Manager Accused of Hiring Friends


The Dallas city manager has reassigned the man in charge of computers and information technology at Dallas City Hall.

It comes in the wake of allegations Worris Levine hired at least eight members of his Fort Worth church who may not have been qualified.

Worris Levine was named director of communication and information services in 2006.

The Dallas Morning News reports Levine hired at least eight members of Chosen Vessel Cathedral, including several to temporary positions where competitive selection rules are less stringent.

Records could not be found to show qualifications for some of the employees.

Levine did not return messages for comment Thursday.

The city manager has laid off hundreds of city workers in the past several years because of severe budget problems.

At the same time, computer problems have raised concerns among City Council members and police officers.

A 2009 change to new computer terminals and software for police squad cars caused serious problems officers that called a public safety threat.

"It really slowed down police service," said Dallas Police Association President Glenn White.
A 2009 audit raised concerns about reliability of city computer systems.

"These issues were identified back in 2004. We're sitting around here in 2009 still having this discussion," then-Councilman Ron Natinksy said at a May 2009 meeting on the audit.

Levine’s reassignment will include work on issues that are still unresolved from the 2009 audit.

In 2010, the CIS department was given the responsibility of replacing the city’s entire analog two-way radio system with a digital system as required by federal rules.

The change will cost taxpayers more than $100 million.

White said the hiring scandal is a tremendous concern for a department with so many important high-tech tasks.

"Apparently, this guy can just hire all the temporary workers he wants and nobody vetted them, and that’s got to be a big concern when you have a responsibility to provide IT services for the police department, the fire department, the water department. This is going to be huge," White said.

City Manager Mary Suhm declined an interview request about the CIS issue Thursday but provided a copy of a memo sent to about 200 CIS employees on Wednesday.

The memo announced Levine’s reassignment along with a top-to-bottom review of the department that could include turning it over to private contractors.

"When issues such as those reported in recent articles result in a diminution of public trust in our operations, it is imperative that careful assessments be made," Suhm said in the memo.

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