Audit confirms improper no-bid contract scheme at Ohio's Department of Administrative Services

From The Columbus Dispatch

It’s old news, but state information technology officials ignored bidding requirements for years to hand out millions of dollars in no-bid consulting contracts, according to a “public interest report” by the office of Ohio Auditor Dave Yost.

The audit, prompted by an investigation by The Dispatch published in April 2017, confirmed the newspaper’s finding of at least $15 million in unbid work while noting that “numerous policy safeguards to prevent waste and abuse do not exist.”

Controls over purchasing at the Department of Administrative Services were so weak that “it’s impossible to verify whether the state overpaid for services” through the improper no-bid contracts, Yost’s office said in its report released early Thursday.

“Because key information and documentation is lacking, it’s impossible to know exactly what happened in these contracts,” Yost said in a statement. “One thing we do know is that the process at place at DAS is not even close to being considered a ‘best practice.’ They can, and must, do better.”

The Dispatch reported last year that top state information technology officials improperly failed to seek bids or price quotes and sidestepped approval of the Controlling Board — a bipartisan spending watchdog panel — in routing unbid work costing more than $200 an hour to two favored contractors. Lower-ranking state purchasing analysts, meanwhile, had warned that the contracts were improper and might be overpriced.

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