State Auditor Dave Vaudt has fired an employee who’s married to the former chief financial officer of a central Iowa job training agency where top managers were paid lavish salaries and bonuses.
Vaudt says on August 14th, he told Deb Dessert Bargman — the wife of John Bargman, the former CFO at the Central Iowa Employment and Training Consortium (CIETC) — that she would be terminated, but Vaudt gave her the opportunity to resign first. “After several exchanges of communications with her attorney, but receiving no resignation letter, I did terminate Deb’s employment effective yesterday,” Vaudt says.
Vaudt says he can’t comment on many details because it’s a personnel matter. “About all I can say is that all positions at the State Auditor’s office are based on credibility,” Vaudt says. “I believe Deb compromised that credibility.”
Mrs. Bargman told legislators earlier this summer she didn’t think her husband’s pay was out of line. Mrs. Bargman also “moonlighted” at CIETC, setting up a computer tracking system for agency payments. Vaudt hired Mrs. Bargman in January of 2005. Personnel rules allow state government employees to work as consultants. “In my policies here, people (who) do work outside the office have to receive my permission, which Deb did,” Vaudt says. “The main thing I focus on, being in the auditor’s office, is to make sure whatever work they’re providing would not cause an independence issue for this office.”
Vaudt rejects any contention that the computer set-up at CIETC that was engineered by Mrs. Bargman made it nearly impossible to track the bonuses paid to top CIETC managers. “At the hearings this past week there was an issue about the computer system at CIETC and I just want to assure you that our auditors were able to pull the salary data from that current system without any difficulty,” Vaudt says. “I haven’t heard this ‘The computer made me do it’ excuse for a long time. I’d like people to be reminded CIETC is a person issue, not a technology issue.”
The audit conducted by Vaudt’s office, and made public this spring, spawned state and federal investigations of how money was spent in the agency. Mrs. Bargman’s job in Vaudt’s office was not as an auditor, and she had no role in the audit of CIETC. As the agency’s “professional development director,” she was in charge of recruiting on college campuses when there were openings in the auditor’s office for CPAs and accountants. She also was in charge of training programs for CPAs and others in the auditor’s office.
In mid-June, Mrs. Bargman testified before the Legislative Oversight Committee and told lawmakers she found out about her husband’s pay when she saw their tax returns.