Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Repeat offenses

The state agency that is supposed to reduce bureaucracy again has been cited for mismanaging state contracts and failing to provide proof of estimated savings.

Today, Auditor General William Holland issued his most recent audit of Central Management Services, the agency that oversees the state’s communications, property management and employees’ insurance benefits. Continuing a three-year trend, this audit echoes concerns about the way Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s administration awards contracts. For example, Illinois Issues cited the same concerns in an article one year ago. (See our February 2005 issue.)

The most recent audit of Central Management Services reviews fiscal year 2005, which ended last June 30. Some findings are repeat offenses from the previous year’s audit, which led Holland to report the findings to higher authorities for further investigation.

A primary concerns this time around includes the impact of allowing companies to start projects before contracts were formally filed with the state. “Oversight and public accountability is compromised when large amounts of work are performed and costs incurred before the public is made aware of the specifics of a contract,” the audit says. One vendor had been working six months before the contract was filed with the comptroller’s office.

Another potential hit to public confidence came with the finding, “No documentation was maintained to indicate that a possible conflict of interest was reviewed and resolved.”

One the concerns could even impact next year’s state budget, which is still under negotiation among Democrats. The governor often cites estimated savings as a way to pay for new programs, but auditors said the department lacks documentation to verify the amount the state could save.

The department reported that it agreed with the findings and has made improvements.

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