OUC management coach scrutinized, high level managers demoted, records show

After two high-level managers for the Orlando Utilities Commission were demoted following an internal investigation, 9 Investigates started looking into the culture and treatment of employees of the public utility company.

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Orlando Utilities Commission board and former CEO signed off on contracts allowing Mary Homan to collect nearly $1 million.

Homan is the sole owner and primary operator of Organizational Dynamics Consulting and was initially brought on board in 2013 to help with succession planning and retirements.

However, her current contract, signed in 2016, shows her two-person operation provides professional classes, training and coaching for management at the public utility.

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“These are not jobs where you just hire someone, and they immediately hit the ground running a lot of institutional knowledge and other very technical skill sets that are required to do these jobs, so that's part of the reason Mary Homan was brought on,” OUC spokesman Tim Trudell said.

WFTV investigative reporter Daralene Jones questioned him further: “Some of the work she does includes coaching and dealing with upper level managers here who have issues dealing with anger, don’t know how to treat their employees, bully, harass people.”

Two of them have been demoted and one resigned, so some would suggest her services aren’t really working.

“You're never going to be 100% right. She's done a lot of valuable work for OUC, it says so in the internal audit report,” Trudell said.

That audit, which 9 Investigates requested and received a copy of, was prompted by a complaint from an anonymous employee hotline.

The hotline was set up as a safe place for employees to call in concerns to avoid fear of retaliation.

The employee wrote in part: “There is a general understanding that Homan's contract is one of 5-6 contracts that were solicited together, yet Homan is the only supplier of that group that has been given a contractor badge to roam around the different facilities and have unescorted access, therefore having the ability to approach leadership and solicit more business from the Commission. It is inappropriate as Homan forms personnel relations with leaders even buying lunch for them to get more business. It is thought that Homan has made thousands of dollars over the last few years from the same repeat leaders.”

“It is also thought that she makes situations actually worse with coaching techniques. Commission employees are not stupid and see Homan with the same people coaching yet she never has positive outcomes or results. Please look into how much money was spent with her on the Standard and Compliance Department and look how that area has fallen apart. What exactly are they doing wasting Commission dollars on this kind of waste with no data or successes to back up success. As a public organization, this is not appropriate.”

9 Investigates had already requested a copy of Homan’s invoices prior to finding the employee complaint while reviewing transcripts from the hotline, because of our previous reporting about the toxic work environment at the Stanton Plant.

Since then, two managers within the company, Jonathan Janis and Richard Kinas, have been demoted.

Janis resigned after Jones questioned the CEO about why he was demoted without a salary change.

According to records, both had repeated sessions with Homan prior to their demotions.

Sometimes sessions cost thousands of dollars. But overall the invoices provide little to no details about why.

Even OUC auditors discovered human resources were "often not informed about proposals upfront and unable to secure information about the outcome or results of the services provided.

"There are some things in the way the contract details are worked out in our processes that we need to improve. I can say that's something we're going to address immediately,” Trudell said. “We're cognizant and careful with all of our ratepayer money and we do believe she had a very good value to OUC, but the other side to that is we have our own checks and balances system.”

Auditors also raised concerns about Homan’s access to various OUC facilities and recommended her badge access be changed, in addition to ceasing payments to her firm for the remainder of the contract.

OUC officials said an audit committee will review the recommendations. Until then, no final determination will be made regarding payments.

The audit found no proof she curried favor with management to keep this contract. However, a random check of some invoices revealed occasions in which she was paid for services but hadn't used her badge to get in the building.

She provided a copy of Homan personal calendar to prove those appointments but refused to give up her entire calendar, saying the records are confidential.

OUC auditors have recommended ceasing payments for the remainder of her contract and re-bidding the work.

The re-bid is already happening for some portions. The OUC audit committee will discuss the payment issue at its next meeting.

9 Investigates contacted Homan but she has not returned our calls or email.