By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

Consultant blames Paolo; he disputes findings

However, while the report refers to him frequently by title, it never names him. And while the contractor interviewed every other member of the department, as well as a host of other county officials, it never contacted Paolo for his side of the story.

The report was compiled by InfoSentry of Raleigh, North Carolina. The East Coast consultant firm charged the county $23,960 for its work, county records show.

The document concludes, “Documented, prolonged lack of planning of, attention to, and maintenance of key information systems infrastructure components resulted in a widespread, prolonged e-mail crash that materially disrupted business operations throughout Yamhill County government offices in July.” And it blames that on the department manager.

Paolo, who has set the stage for a lawsuit by filing a tort claim with the county, countered by contending InfoSENTRY failed to understand the technology the county was using. What’s more, he said, it failed to do what it was hired to do in the first place — actually explain why the e-mail system broke down.

Paolo places blame largely on the county’s network administrator, Travis Ward, who was hired in late April to replace longtime administrator David Bosquet after Bosquet moved to the McMinnville School District.

In a letter to County Administrator Laura Tschabold, Paolo’s attorney, Brent Goodfellow, said his client “believes this and other situations have borne out that the new network administrator needs a substantial amount of additional training and support.” In Paolo’s assessment, he said, “Mr. Ward is not anywhere near the skill level that Mr. Bosquet was.”

The crux of Goodfellow’s argument was that the breakdown was Ward’s doing, not Paolo’s.

Paolo said the county’s computer system ran smoothly for years, prior to the spectacular crash that ended his tenure with the county last summer. Ever since then, though, it has experienced continuing problems.

The News-Register attempted to assess that claim by asking the county to identify system problems it had experienced between Jan. 1 and late October. However, the county refused on the grounds it had no such record in hand and the law does not compel it to compile one.

The News-Register did not challenge that denial, but did challenge denial of its request for a copy of the report the county commissioned on its computer outage. District Attorney Brad Berry sided with the newspaper, following an exchange of legal arguments, and the county decided against pursuing a challenge in circuit court.

Ward declined to discuss the incident with the News-Register. However, in an interview with the consultant firm, detailed in the report, he appears to place blame on both Paolo and Bosquet.

InfoSENTRY said the county was running Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 software, which it termed dangerously outdated. It blamed a software breakdown, compounded by human error, for the full extent of the outage.

Paolo maintained the outage had nothing to do with the software.

Ward told him at the time that a pair of disc drives had failed, then a server had gone out, he said.

But he told the News-Register, “The likelihood of having server hardware and two disc drives fail at the same time is extremely remote.” To really get to the bottom of the problem, he said, the county needs to have its software vendor perform a “forensic examination.”

In Paolo’s view, the original breakdown was greatly magnified by actions Ward took.

He said Ward, despite having completed recent training in use of a “snapshots” backup system, turned off the system on July 1. That, he said, left the county’s e-mail system with no backup service.

He said lack of a backup added significantly to the time and difficulty of restoring the system. What’s more, he said, Ward didn’t reveal at the time that he had shut off the backup.

The InfoSENTRY report makes no mention of the snapshots feature being turned off. But it does recommend the feature be “enabled,” an activity it indicates is now “underway.”

According to InfoSENTRY, “This catastrophic e-mail crash was not a ‘one-off’ or special event. Neither was it particularly rare, given that small tremors had actually occurred twice in July before the final calamitous event later in the month. In the first week of July and again in the middle of the month, nearly identical incidents had occurred.”

It goes on to say, “The systems staff members properly notified the IT Division manager of the predecessor events and noted the urgency of the need to take mitigation steps.” But it says, “The recommended actions did not occur,” thus fingering Paolo.

The consultants concluded, “The decisions not to remedy the out-of-date conditions of these two software programs, one an operating system and the other a key e-mail application, were the core causes of the e-mail crash.”

Paolo disputes that finding in its entirety.

But in any event, he said, Bosquet had planned to update the county’s e-mail software in mid-July Ward knew that when he was hired, and money had been budgeted for the work. That being the case, he said, Ward could have made the upgrade a higher priority and moved the work up if he had wanted to.

“It would be his decision,” Paolo said. “If he thought it was a bigger need, the money was there. He could have said, ‘We gotta have this now.’”

InfoSENTRY said, “The current job description of the IT Division’s senior manager position indicates that the person in this position ... ‘determines the priorities for applications maintenance and enhancements.’” And it said, “The person in this position did not assign a sufficient priority to standard maintenance and upgrade actions for the Microsoft Exchange Server application.”

That indicates the responsibility lay with Paolo. However, Paolo said determining priorities for the updating of system software is actually part of Ward’s job description.

The report also blamed “a decision to implement a new telephone system in Yamhill County,” even though the two are technically unrelated.

It said, “The implementation of the new phone system was a priority that moved ahead of the IT Division’s priority for upgrading and stabilizing” the software. “It is unclear from reviews of documentation and from interviews whether the IT Division presented a clear listing of its priorities and explained the trade-offs among those priorities to Yamhill County executives and political leaders.”

In fact, Paolo responded, the division was occupied with an array of other projects, none of them optional.

In his letter Tschabold, who carried out the dismissal, Goodfellow complained, “Mr. Paolo sees no references to the substantial network switch upgrades, the VOIP phone system project implementation, the microwave systems projects, the assessor software project, the SPOK 911 system requirements, the H&HS facilities expansions, the issues that were being experienced with the Checkpoint network firewall and the required CJIS audits that were consuming huge amounts of time and were also critically important. To ignore these facts demonstrates a lack of understanding of all the tasks and projects that are being reported on a regular basis.”

In fact, Goodfellow said, the original phone system “was much further off support than the Exchange Server was.” And Paolo contended some of that might have become apparently had he also been interviewed, along with other members of the county’s IT team.

The InfoSENTRY report also faults the county for using a “virtual machine” server approach, saying it “quickly overran the capacity of the system.”

It blamed that squarely on Paolo, saying, “There is little, if any, docuementary evidence that the IT Division’s senior manager established, documented and carried out policies, procedures, and standards for managing the virtual machine and disk capacity for operation of a complicated, transaction-intensive Microsoft Exchange application.” In fact, it said, “There was little, if any, effective, documented indications that the IT Division’s senior manager recognized the importance of carrying out these basic capacity planning steps.”

InfoSENTRY went on to say, “VM environment is very complicated to manage even in periods of normal operation. Without proper planning, thorough documentation and constant monitoring, the VM environment can become a major obstacle to system stability. It can significantly complicate and prolong recovery efforts after disasters. That was the case in Yamhill County after the e-mail crash.”

According to Goodfellow, however, Paolo contends “Virtual Machine is widely used in MS Exchange environments,” and when the county considered moving the system from the VM and onto a physical server, its vendor company, which provides technical support and consulting services, “strongly advised against this.”



Too bad administration didn't let the tech expert handle things. Looks like they decided to fire Paolo then hired a "consultant" to build a case for them. Only problem here is that there are some huge holes in the consultants report that the taxpayers paid for. The expense of this entire this is unnecessary and enormous and it appears to be far from over.


Credibility seems to be in question when the interview list doesn't include the county IT manager.....Seems that the county got the exact conclusion they paid for...and it only costs us $24k.....I find it interesting that they don't want to hear from Paolo, either in the report or at a hearing.....that one-sided approach may present a problem in court.....


A total set-up.

David Bates

Let me get this straight: The county paid a consultant from North Carolina (!) nearly $24,000 to investigate an email breakdown they're trying to lay in Murray Paolo's lap, and they never actually interviewed him??? Sounds as credible as a Stalinist show trial.


I find it very interesting that the county tried to hide this report and then even went as far as to mount legal arguments to keep it hidden and out of the hands of the NewsRegister. Somethin' fishy is going on.
And also...$24,000 was taken from the pockets of Yamhill County citizens and used to buy this "report"? Are you kidding me?? As one who was forced by tax laws to help finance the report, I want to know the name of the person who made the decision to buy it.

David Bates

If a consultant is directed to either investigate an incident related to the IS department and/or the department as a whole, and the DIRECTOR of that department is deliberately excluded from the process of fact-finding, then we're not talking about an honest, good-faith effort to discover the truth. We're now into the realm of set-up and spending a lot of taxpayers' money for a fig leaf. Paolo is going to get six figures out of this, easily.


And in the process we the citizens lose the services of a long time highly committed and highly skilled public employee. Paolo has sorted out some of the biggest messes and dealt with the most complex technical issues including the public safety radio system. He has brought millions into this county through his skill in working with federal grants. This is not in the "best interest" of the county at all.


Our commission can't shop local even when they're out to screw someone.


Nicole (or anyone else at the NewsRegister),Thank you so much for getting this report out into the light where the people who paid for it(all yamhill county citizens) can see it. Please, please, please keep pushing to get all the way to the bottom of this matter. The truth needs to be found and made public.


InfoSentry comes off as a sham. First, it is totally inexcusable to not interview Paolo. Secondly some of their findings (as reported in the article anyway) do not appear accurate in light of current technology. To criticize the use of VM ware is rediculous. They appear to be a company who doesn't care about being credible and instead survive on just doing what they are paid to do. In this case it sure does appear they were paid to generate something to justify the county's actions. I can't help but to remember the county and the previous sheriff (Crabtree) wanted to fire Paolo earlier. It would interesting to know how the county came to choose this 'consultant'. News Register, can you help us get that info?

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