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Email gets Oklahoma state employee removed from building

David Porta, an information technology employee for the state of Oklahoma, said he was escorted from work under armed guard Monday after sending an email to lawmakers questioning whether the Oklahoma Department of Human Services was wasting thousands of dollars on a logo rebranding project.
by Randy Ellis Modified: August 20, 2013 at 10:00 am •  Published: August 19, 2013
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A state information technology employee says he was escorted from work under armed guard Monday after sending an email to lawmakers Friday questioning whether the Oklahoma Department of Human Services was wasting thousands of dollars on an updated logo and rebranding project.

“This is crazy,” said David Porta, a planning specialist who works on DHS information technology projects as an employee of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services. Porta worked directly for DHS for about six years before his position was transferred to OMES about a year ago as part of the governor's state information technology consolidation initiative.

Porta, 66, said he became incensed Friday after learning at a meeting that DHS officials were preparing to launch a rebranding effort that would involve changing the agency's logo and using the acronym DHS for the agency instead of OKDHS.

“Is DHS really going to spend thousands, no probably tens of thousands of dollars in taxpayer's money simply to change their name from OKDHS to DHS to improve their ‘image' to the press and public?” Porta wrote in an email he fired off to several legislative leaders and editorial writers for The Oklahoman. “Has anyone really told the members of the state Senate or House what the real costs involved are and what has to be changed just so you can have new letterheads and websites and advertising that says DHS instead of OKDHS? I doubt it. It sounds as if this new crew is running amuck … and as usual has inflated the perceived benefit while minimizing or completely ignoring the real costs.”

‘Simply not true'

Sheree Powell, spokeswoman for DHS, said Porta is misinformed and was out of line.

“He's speaking about things he knows absolutely nothing about and he didn't bother to ask,” Powell said. “He just decided to go off on a rant. ... He is alleging we are spending tens of thousands of dollars on rebranding, which is simply not true.”

Yes, DHS is rebranding and plans to roll out a new logo, a new strategic plan and update its website design in September as new Director Ed Lake helps chart a new direction for the agency, she said.

But the work is being done under a fixed cost contract DHS has with OMES for information technology services and there will be no additional cost, she said.

“We're doing it in a very fiscally responsible manner,” she insisted. “We've been trying to figure out how much it's going to cost, but it's next to nothing.”

Exercised an option

Porta's email so infuriated DHS executives that they exercised an option in the agency's contract with OMES and disabled Porta's security access to DHS information and buildings.

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by Randy Ellis
Investigative Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
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