CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The chairman of the Senate Government Organization Committee said a full review of the state’s purchasing rules and regulations will continue to be one of the main focuses for lawmakers between now and the start of the 2014 Regular Legislative Session.
“We’re spent a lot of time on this and we’re not finished yet,” Sen. Herb Snyder (D-Jefferson, 16) reported from the State Capitol on Wednesday as lawmakers wrapped up October interim meetings.
Several purchasing rule changes have been proposed to the Joint Committee on Government Organization following two separate legislative audits, this year, that found problems with specific state purchases.
One audit concluded millions of dollars were wasted in 2010 when $24 million in federal stimulus money was spent on computer routers, even though some of the routers were much too large for their destinations in West Virginia. Auditors said the purchases were not put through the required competitive bidding process and the state overspent, by about $8 million, as a result.
A separate audit determined the proper bidding process also was not followed in 2010 when a $10 million contract for 17 emergency communications towers was awarded to a Lewis County company using an existing county contract. Those towers have since been built, even though the officials involved were warned of problems with the process.
In response to the audits, State Purchasing Division Director David Tincher has proposed giving the person in his position the power to halt questionable contracts and requiring the Purchasing Division to handle all projects that will utilize federal grant money for state agency purchases.
Tincher’s proposals, which he presented to lawmakers this week, would also reduce the number of state agencies exempt from working with his division, expand the state’s bribery law and add to the number of audits being done on purchases for more oversight.
Snyder said lawmakers were looking at the ideas. “There are purchasings done at all the agencies every day, colleges, universities and so forth, and, by and large, it works pretty well. Our purchasing division handles what comes to them,” he said.
“If it doesn’t come through them, as it should have, then that’s where you get into this type of situation.”
Snyder was a guest on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
The 2014 Regular Legislative Session begins in January.