Upper Left Coast

Thoughts on politics, faith, sports and other random topics from a red state sympathizer in indigo-blue Portland, Oregon.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Selective auditing

So the audits division of the secretary of state has found that Oregon overspends on its cell phone costs by nearly half a million dollars every year.

State government is wasting money? Ho hum. Tell us something new.

However, there were a few things that caught my eye, things which should tell us that the half-million number is way low:
  1. While the audit included all state cell phone use, it only dug into three departments -- Human Services, Transportation, and Corrections -- and revealed that the overspending was largely due to "insufficient agency oversight." Since those departments accounted for less than 40 percent of the state's cell phone use, what kinds of abuses might have been found with deeper digging into the other 60 percent?
  2. The audit included usage from two carriers, Sprint/Nextel and AT&T; a third carrier, Verizon, did not provide usage info, and state agencies are free to use other carriers (such as T-Mobile). Who knows how much more waste would have been revealed with the info from other carriers?
  3. The audit revealed that the state paid for roughly 8,145 cell phones at a cost of $3.1 million, but again, that was without Verizon's info. How many more cell phones are covered by Verizon, and at what cost?
But the biggest surprise may have come from Audit Director Gary Blackmer, who was quoted by Oregon Public Broadcasting as saying:
We don’t in any way want to question the need for cell phones. It’s more just how we can get the best value out of them.
Say what? Why don't we want to question the need for cell phones? When the audit report includes info like this:
At DHS, one phone had more than $2,300 in charges in one year, with one month’s charges over $1,200. We found that the listed user had left state employment in April 2005. DHS staff could not tell us whether the individual or individuals responsible for these charges were employed by DHS.
why in the world wouldn't we question the need for cell phones? Do we really think that the culture that created these problems will somehow miraculously clean itself up? Never mind, don't answer that.

And remember, this is the culture that thinks the government can make the best, most cost-effective decisions about our health care.

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