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WASTEBUSTERS: Questionable contract cost state $45,000 in interest, fees

A report from the Missouri State Auditor's Office released Wednesday shows the state lost a total of $45,000 in fees and uncollected interest in what the office found was a questionable contract for fingerprinting technology.

The audit also outlined an apparent conflict of interest in the method the former director of public safety used in awarding a contract for police fingerprinting technology. The audit report said it identified "deficiencies in internal controls, noncompliance with legal provisions, and the need for improvement in management practices and operations."

When the Department of Public Safety's Office of the Director awarded the $1.25 million contract to the Missouri Police Chiefs Charitable Foundation, it agreed to pay a $58,000 fee for the coordination and installation services. This, despite the Missouri State Highway Patrol having historically provided those services for free.

The audit report said the $1.25 million was paid to the MPCCF on June 25, more than seven months before the devices were actually received and installed. 

In the time between the payment and the services being rendered, the state is estimated in the audit report to have lost $16,000 in interest that would have accrued with the money in the possession of the state government.

According to the audit report, another $29,000 -- the first half of the $58,000 fee -- was paid to the MPCCF on June 22, but it did not include any recorded payment of the other half. The lost interest and the paid half of the fee add up to $45,000.

ABC 17 News asked DPS spokesperson Mike O'Connell if the other $29,000 was paid to the foundation. O'Connell said an invoice for the other $29,000 was never received by the department.

The financial impact on the state of Missouri through awarding the contract is an estimated $45,000.

"As stated in Director Karsten’s July 10 letter in response to the audit, which is included in the auditor’s report, the Department of Public Safety has already taken steps to address the concerns expressed in the audit and will continue to implement the audit’s recommendations," said O'Connell. "Part of Governor Parson’s charge to state government was to work to make government better. The department sees the audit as a step in that process."

State Auditor Nicole Galloway said she has confidence in the department's new leadership.

"I am encouraged that the current Public Safety Director agrees with the audit's recommendations and has said her department is taking steps to implement them," Galloway said.

The full audit report can be viewed by following this link.

ABC 17 News Investigates / Governor of Missouri / Jefferson City / Missouri Politics / News / Politics

Joe McLean

Joe reports stories all across mid-Missouri, including our WasteBusters series of reports, and co-anchors ABC 17 News at 9 a.m. with Zara Barker.

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