By Joe Jordan | Nebraska Watchdog
[Update: August 20, 4 p.m. Top Heineman aide will agree to disagree with a critical state audit...see new information in italics below]
One of the state’s biggest spenders is under fire.
According to an investigation by State Auditor Mike Foley, the Department of Administrative Services —run by one of Gov. Dave Heineman’s closest political confidantes — is guilty of a long list of problems, some possibly costing taxpayers millions.
Foley’s 55-page audit of the Material Division of DAS uncovered questionable bidding practices, inadequate recordkeeping, and erroneous accounting. In addition Foley says DAS failed to provide information his office requested.
“The taxpayers of Nebraska deserve better than what is occurring here,” Foley said.
DAS Director Carlos Castillo tells Nebraska Watchdog the audit is full of holes.
Among DAS’s miscues is an $8.9 million road oil contract which, according to Foley, was awarded prematurely at best.
Foley said Jebro Inc., a Sioux City, Iowa firm, got the contract over one other bidder, while state law requires at least three bids.
Foley said that fewer than three bids are acceptable with the governor’s OK. Foley said there are no records indicating the governor’s approval in the Jebro deal.
“Official DAS procedures for awarding contracts with fewer than three bids were ignored by the agency,” Foley said.
Castillo says when only two bids came in he gave the go-ahead. According to Castillo as head of DAS the governor has delegated purchasing decisions to him.
The audit also accuses DAS of paying former state workers who should not have been paid.
Foley said four employees were overpaid “at the time of their termination, with one … receiving a paycheck … he did not earn.”
According to Foley, DAS never got the money back.
And then there’s the case of the Omaha Paper Company.
Foley says a $3.6 million contract with the firm appears to be costing the state nearly three times that much.
According to Foley, DAS’ own records find the state spending “over $10.8 million with no reasonable explanation for the discrepancy.”
Castillo tells Nebraska Watchdog that his office will go through the audit line-by line but insists there are no questionable practices in place.
As for Foley’s claim that DAS didn’t cooperate with the audit Castillo says, “What (Foley) wanted he got.”
Contact Joe Jordan at email@example.com.
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