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Audit: Clark County contract process flawed

An internal audit released this week found numerous flaws in how Clark County maintains contracts.

The county’s contract maintenance process “is limited by a lack of vision, communication, coordination and training,” according to a report released Tuesday by the Clark County Auditor’s Office. The audit found that a decentralized structure, in which departments use different tools and systems, leads to inconsistent data and reporting.

“This is an issue the county needs to address,” Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey said in a news release. “We hope that by identifying core issues and suggesting potential solutions, we will help the county establish a capable and resilient contract maintenance process.”

The audit referred to several contracting issues, including late and incorrect invoicing and inaccurate payments. Most recently, in September, the state Auditor’s Office released a report that said the county violated federal procurement requirements by awarding a contract to a company involved in the ongoing cleanup of Camp Bonneville.

The Clark County Audit Oversight Committee requested the audit in 2018 as part of its biannual plan.

“We were alerted that, probably, there were some changes that could be made,” said Clark County Council Chair Eileen Quiring, who also serves on the oversight committee. “I think there has been a concern on the council to see how these contracts are run.”

County councilors say that they have heard of many issues with contracts signed prior to Clark County Manager Shawn Henessee’s arrival in July 2018.

“Clearly, there’s work to be done in getting all of the processes in order, and I believe that’s what the county manager has been working to do in his year-and-a-half on the job,” Councilor Temple Lentz said.

County departments, with many employees who haven’t been trained on the subject, are responsible for managing their own contracts after they’re awarded — in lieu of a centralized contract function. Instead, departments have implemented filing and software systems that differ from each other, creating duplication between departments, the audit found.

The audit is based on a sample of hundreds of contracts in 2017 and 2018 with a minimum value of $10,000. Results revealed 34 file errors and data inconsistency that was well short of the expected accuracy rate.

“I think I was a little bit surprised, and we have work to do,” Quiring said. “But I think there should be a more coordinated effort.”

The audit recommended that the county develop a long-range strategy, define the structure of a contract oversight program, create a countywide index of all contracts and files, and offer contact management skills training.

“Overall, the county is in agreement that there are opportunities for improvement to the contract management function,” Deputy County Manager Kathleen Otto wrote in a response to the audit.

County officials say the changes will take time due to the number of contracts that are managed each year and the complicated web of systems that manage them. The county plans to have an employee develop, implement and manage a central management program on a full-time basis, a process that is scheduled to begin early this year.

“We have work to do, and it won’t happen overnight,” Quiring said.


Source: https://www.columbian.com

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