Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Mismanagement Central

TV reporters in particular like to ask politicians when they are going to talk about issues in a campaign. Then they cover the stunt of the day.

All reporters in Illinois ought to take a gander at the audits of the Rod Blagojevich administration. They are unlike any seen in Illinois. Yet they are barely mentioned on the news.

They are important because it is the professional and independent judgment of how our tax dollars are being spent and managed. The answer in Illinois is that hundreds of millions of dollars are being wasted every year by a band of incompetent and quite possibly corrupt public servants. Take a look yourself.

Most contracts go through the administration's Central Management Services (CMS). When the first audit of CMS came out last year, there was shock and outrage. Joe Birkett, Republican candidate for Lt. Gov. and a client, said at the time the report was the “Magna Carta of Mismanagement.” Auditor General Bill Holland turned results of the audit over to Attorney General Lisa Madigan for criminal review.

Well, a year later, things haven't changed much.


So much for progress.

I remember in the Attorney General's office a few years ago we got an audit finding of a handful of items. We all took the results as an affront and in the next year or two the auditor general returned an audit with zero findings.

Whoever is running CMS ought to be fired yesterday. And the issue of taxpayer waste ought to be front and center in the campaign for governor.

Doug Finke of the State Journal Register did a good job of summarizing the findings today but here are a few other lowlights:

• Contract bids were not opened with any witnesses.

• Once selected, vendors were allowed to jack up their prices before the work even started.

• One vendor raised the price of his computer services $13.5 million without submitting change orders.

• Numerous items were purchased and not reported on property control records, including two new 42-inch plasma TVs.

We already reported that employees at CMS and various other state agencies, including Rod's own Inspector General, failed to fill out time sheets as required by state law.  So, we have no hard evidence they even showed up for work.  The audit demonstrates we all would have been winners had they stayed home.

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