Civic

Mar. 25, 2014 2:30 pm

City CTO Chris Tonjes placed on administrative leave

An investigation of the Mayor's Office of Information Technology is currently underway to determine whether contractual employees were paid for work that wasn't done.

Chris Tonjes speaking at the Baltimore Innovation Week kickoff breakfast in September 2013 at Betamore.

City CTO Chris Tonjes, director of the Mayor’s Office of Information Technology (MOIT) for the City of Baltimore, is on administrative leave as of today in connection with the current investigation into allegations of fraud inside MOIT, said Caron Brace, press secretary with the Mayor’s Office of Policy and Communications.

The Inspector General’s office is currently investigating the Mayor’s Office of Information Technology to determine whether contractual employees for MOIT were paid for work that wasn’t done.

Brace said by e-mail that Tonjes being placed on administrative leave “is not an indication of guilt. This is typical protocol and was done at the request of the Inspector General.”

Tonjes did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Again, this act is not “an indication of guilt,” but it does show the investigation is ongoing. Other MOIT controversies have predated Tonjes, like a hotly contested city contract for its phone services.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake ordered the investigation into MOIT a week ago. The reason, as the Baltimore Sun reported last week: “[T]he city has received allegations that contractual employees have been paid for work they did not perform.” City of Baltimore Inspector General Robert H. Pearre Jr. is leading the investigation into MOIT.

Deputy CTO Jerome Mullen is now acting CTO for the city. Tonjes was named city CTO in summer 2012. He’s actively engaged the local technology community, speaking at various events, opening up an RFP process for city hackathons and discussing regularly open data issues in the Baltimore Tech Facebook group and elsewhere.

This isn’t the first time the Mayor’s Office of Information Technology has come under scrutiny.

Rico Singleton, the man who held the CTO position before Tonjes, was forced to resign his position in February 2012 after an “investigation into Singleton’s former IT office in New York state government found a raft of alleged abuses of power, including getting a job for his girlfriend and private business with a private company that won state contracts.”

Technical.ly Baltimore will update this post as we receive further details and comments.

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Andrew Zaleski

Andrew Zaleski is a freelance journalist in Philadelphia and the former lead reporter for Technical.ly Baltimore. Before moving to Philadelphia in June 2014, he was a contributing writer to Baltimore City Paper and a Tech Check commentator for WYPR 88.1 FM, Baltimore city’s National Public Radio affiliate. He has written for The Atlantic, Outside, Richmond magazine, Washington City Paper, Baltimore magazine, Baltimore Style magazine, Next City, Grist.org, The Atlantic Cities, and elsewhere.

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  • WB

    Chris Tonjes is now an employee of Oculus per his Linkedin page.