A review by the State Auditor’s office that questioned the spending of four boards under the Iowa Department of Public Health has led to changes in procedures. State Auditor Mary Mosiman says the process for buying electronics raised concerns during an audit.
“Expenditures that were reimbursed to employees who had used their personal credit cards or made individual purchases of technology devices — including i-Pads, printers, scanners, laptops, GPS navigators, some cameras, a Kindle was in there, some wireless speakers — instead of going through the normal purchasing process.
The review involved the Iowa Board of Pharmacy, Iowa Dental Board, the Iowa Board of Medicine, and the Iowa Board of Nursing. “One particular individual, he has used his personal credit card to the tune of a little over 18-thousand dollars,” Mosiman say. “And when you are using your individual credit card, you can be earning reward points or other incentives that typically should be the property of the state for future savings instead of being the property of the individual. So, it’s not recommended practice.” She says individuals also paid some sale taxes that would not have been paid through the state purchasing process.
Mosiman says failing to follow state procedures left the devices open to not having the proper protection. “Without going through the department’s IT department they did not have the necessary security for data and protection that is necessary, specifically in health boards,” Mosiman explains. The report covers purchases made from July 1st of 2011 to August 31st of 2014. Mosiman says most of the purchases took place in 2011 and 2012.
The Iowa Pharmacy Board had reimbursements for equipment of more than $45,500. “We’re questioning whether all of these pieces of equipment were necessary. Because as we interviewed or discussed the matter with different employees, some of the i-Pads did not perform all of the services that they needed for technology, so they still had to use their previously issued pieces of equipment,” Mosiman says. “So, we were questioning the public purpose for all of these pieces of equipment that were purchased.”
Mosiman says they also questioned why the Pharmacy Board paid the full cost of internet service for employees, which totaled more than $14,000 in the 2013 fiscal year. There were cellphone plans paid for by the state, when there were very few calls made on the plan. The State Auditor says her organization made several recommendations on changes to bring the boards into compliance with state rules. She says changes were made soon after her office started the review.
“I think once the realized that it is considered questionable, they put procedures into play to make sure they are doing a better job of that,” Mosiman says. “So, for the most part there was a favorable response to the recommendations within our report.” Mosiman says the problems surfaced in a routine review of the purchasing process for the boards.
You can see the full report here: IDPH Boards review PDF