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You’ve got to be kidding me

Tuesday, Apr 26, 2005

CMS director-in-waiting Paul Campbell, who was a recipient of a questionable expense by a CMS contractor, just told reporters that the auditor general’s report gives the agency an opportunity to highlight the great things that CMS has accomplished.

From the beginning, the CMS honchos should have just kept their mouths shut, taken the punishment and then promised to do better. Instead, they’ve acted like complete buffoons, and whatever credibility they had left (which wasn’t much) has been vaporized.

Can’t anybody play this game?

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      


For more info…

Tuesday, Apr 26, 2005

Archpundit is going through CMS’s written responses to Holland’s report and is finding some very good stuff (almost none of it, however, helps CMS’s case).

And, while we’re talking about other blogs, Peoria Pundit is posting again, finally.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Response coming

Tuesday, Apr 26, 2005

CMS will respond to the auditor general’s report today at 3:45 pm in a conference room on the 3rd Floor of the Stratton Building. Evidently, having the press conference in the Statehouse Blue Room was too much of an inconvenience.

- Posted by Rich Miller   12 Comments      


It’s always the criminal stuff

Tuesday, Apr 26, 2005

Criminal referrals almost always make the lede. From the AP a few minutes ago:

The state auditor has referred a highly critical report accusing Illinois’ chief administrative agency of being careless with tax dollars to the attorney general, although he stopped short of accusing the department of criminal conduct.

“There clearly was some inappropriate activity,” Auditor General William Holland said at a news conference releasing the audit Tuesday. “I don’t know that it’s sinister, but I don’t know that it’s not.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   1 Comment      


Holland presser

Tuesday, Apr 26, 2005

Listening to the auditor general’s press conference. What I just heard, I think, is that CMS apparently conducted an investigation of Bill Holland’s office to see if they could impugn his integrity before the release of the audit. (UPDATE: I heard it correctly.)

(Keep hitting your “refresh” button because I’m doing updates as they happen.) (Press conference is finished, so you can lay off the “refresh” button.)

UPDATE 1: Holland just said he’s forwarded material regarding the audit to the attorney general’s office.

UPDATE 2: “The findings are troublesome. Their responses are even more.”

UPDATE 3: “There are laws in place… They don’t change… And you have to abide by them.”

UPDATE 4: “The savings (claimed by CMS) did not occur.”

UPDATE 5: “The IPAM people were taking credit (for savings) that had already happened.”

UPDATE 6: Instead of the $600 million that the governor’s office and CMS claims they’ve saved with the efficiency program, Holland thinks it’s more like $100 million.

UPDATE 7: “If I’m an ordinary taxpayer, I’d be troubled.” […] “Weak process in ensuring transparency and integrity in the procurement process.”

UPDATE 8: Vendors were allowed to participate in the RFP process and then bid on the contracts.

UPDATE 9: Regarding the administration: “Let’s accept some responsibility for this.”

UPDATE 10: “Sloppy is a very kind word.” Ouch.

UPDATE 11: “The problem here is their unwillingness to say… ‘Yes we need to make improvements.’”

UPDATE 12: While Holland was speaking, Republican gubernatorial candidate Joe Birkett issued a press release:

“Today’s shocking report on the utter incompetence, corruption and waste in the Rod Blagojevich administration will go down in Illinois history as the ‘Magna Carta of Mismanagement.’”

UPDATE 13: Holland has repeatedly brushed aside questions on what, exactly, he has forwarded to the attorney general.

UPDATE 14: “The public has a right to expect a better procurement process.”

UPDATE 15: Press conference just ended.

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      


Breaking news

Tuesday, Apr 26, 2005

Here is the auditor general’s report digest for the CMS audit.

And here is the AP story about the audit.

More later and tomorrow.

UPDATE 1: I’ll get into this much more in tomorrow’s Capitol Fax, but here’s a little nugget.

According to the auditor general, the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget and CMS took millions from the Illinois Department of Transportation and other agencies that it was not entitled to.

The Department failed to adequately determine the amount of savings it expected State agencies to realize when billing for savings initiatives. This resulted in a majority of State agencies being over billed – i.e., they were billed more for savings initiatives than Department documentation showed the agencies had realized in savings.

During FY04 the Department billed State agencies $137 million for efficiency initiatives for: procurement, information technology, vehicle fleet management, facilities management consolidation, internal audit consolidation, and legal research consolidation.

Department documentation showed that there were 4 “Winners” and 35 “Losers” from the efforts of the procurement efficiency initiative.

The Department did not maintain adequate documentation to support the validation of many of the savings which the Department attributes to its various efficiency initiatives. […]

In November 2004, the Department provided documentation on the “Winners and Losers” from the procurement efficiency initiative. For instance, CMS billed the Department of Transportation (IDOT) $17,061,200 during FY04 but CMS documentation showed that IDOT only saved $1,232,179 from the procurement efficiency initiative. Likewise, the Department of Revenue (DOR) was billed $4,321,900 during FY04 but only saved $238,302 from the procurement efficiency initiative. In total, Department documentation showed that there were 4 “Winners” and 35 “Losers” from the efforts of the procurement efficiency initiative. (Emphasis added.)

UPDATE 2: IPAM, the company which was supposed to save the state money, didn’t (More in the fax).

Also, check out who that same vendor took to a basketball game:

Parking reimbursed for the United Center on February 17, 2004. The Chicago Bulls had a home basketball game on that date. The detailed support indicated two names on the parking receipt, a vendor employee and the Department official responsible for monitoring the contract… (emphasis added)

That Bulls parking was reimbursed by CMS. Your money.

UPDATE 3: What exactly did this company do?

In the original IPAM proposal, IPAM would perform all facility condition assessments on 50 million sq. ft. of State-owned buildings. Within its BAFO, IPAM decreased its price but also proposed that facility managers (to be hired for the facility management consolidation process) and not IPAM would perform the condition assessments on the last 40 million square feet. However, on February 4, 2005, the Department published in the Procurement Bulletin a sole source $2.25 million contract for IPAM to perform facility condition assessments.

UPDATE 4: CMS refuses to take its medicine and has harsh words for Auditor General Holland. Holland responds:

CMS continues to misunderstand and, in some instances, mischaracterize our findings.

UPDATE 5: Here’s what CMS had to say about the audit (They’re gonna regret this complaining. Reporters love the auditor general.):

(Click on the image for a larger view.)

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      


Question of the day

Tuesday, Apr 26, 2005

Suggested by The So-Called Austin Mayor in comments the other day:

If you could recommend only one book about Illinois politics, which book would you recommend, AND WHY?

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      


Hurtgen “subject” of probe

Tuesday, Apr 26, 2005

From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

P. Nicholas Hurtgen has successfully tapped his friends in high places for a variety of favors over the years. With their help and his own moxie, he rose from a mere cabana boy in then-Gov. Tommy Thompson’s administration to a go-to guy at Bear Stearns & Co., a major investment banking firm.

Now he’s asking a select group of pals for one more favor, the most important one yet:

Please write a letter to the U.S. attorney in Chicago, urging him not to indict Hurtgen. […]

The fact that Hurtgen, one of Thompson’s closest friends, is under investigation is not new. He and Bear Stearns are defendants in a whistle-blower lawsuit filed last year accusing him of attempting to push a Naperville, Ill., hospital to award a $200 million construction job to a firm with ties to a key Illinois official.

It has since been disclosed that Bear Stearns’ Chicago office, which Hurtgen headed, is under investigation by federal regulators and prosecutors and the state. Hurtgen was forced out of the firm last summer.

What is new is the fact that his lawyer disclosed that Hurtgen is the “subject” of the federal probe. That’s legalese meaning someone is in trouble. Among the feds, being the “subject” of an investigation is one step short of being a “target,” but it’s still not good news.

Read the whole thing. It’s an interesting tale of not only the letter-writing campaign, but of Hurtgen’s involvement in Wisconsin politics.

(Hat tip to the IL Leader.)

- Posted by Rich Miller   1 Comment      


Request

Tuesday, Apr 26, 2005

A certain person called me about the I-SaveRx program last week and said he faxed me a bunch of stuff. I never received it. Could you try again, please?

- Posted by Rich Miller   2 Comments      


A no-win issue?

Tuesday, Apr 26, 2005

Slate’s William Saletan looks at the battle over pharmacists who refuse to dispense the morning after pill.

Go to the Web sites of the major pro-life players, and run a search for anything related to pharmacists. I got three hits from the National Right to Life Committee, none since 2001. I got eight hits from Concerned Women for America, none on pharmacists’ rights since 2002. Even the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, characterized in some reports as a big campaigner for pharmacists’ rights, hasn’t touched the subject in four months. The Senate and House majority leaders haven’t mentioned it. It’s been raised at the White House just once—by a reporter—and the president’s spokesman ducked it.

Why the silence? Because from a strategic standpoint, it’s a stinker of an issue for pro-lifers. In recent years, they’ve gained the upper hand by focusing relentlessly on late-term fetuses that look like babies. Notice what’s featured on NRLC’s home page today: A Bush administration directive to protect “infants who had been born alive after unsuccessful abortions.” A fight over morning-after pills would push the abortion debate backward, not just to the beginning of pregnancy, but beyond it, to the stage between conception and implantation. Pro-lifers can’t even agree among themselves that a pre-implantation embryo is sacred—most such embryos spontaneously miscarry—and they’d have a hell of a time persuading people that this microscopic entity, which looks nothing like a baby, should be treated like one.

Saletan also had this little zinger.

Who’s fighting hardest for pro-life pharmacists? Pharmacists for Life. Now, there’s a shocker. According to the Post, the group “claims 1,600 members on six continents.” Come on. That’s less than 300 members per continent. Pharmacists for Life may be doing the Lord’s work, but its Web site is politically insane—constantly referring to the Serbian-American governor of Illinois, for example, as “Slobodan” Blagojevich.

After what I thought was a bit of a rough start (announcing his emergency rule just before Pope John Paul II’s death), this has turned into a great issue for Blagojevich. And Saletan is right that it’s a no-win issue for the Right.

- Posted by Rich Miller   2 Comments      


Boat news

Tuesday, Apr 26, 2005

Bad news for the Rock Island riverboat.

llinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan Monday stood by an opinion written by one of her deputies that could prevent the Casino Rock Island from moving to southwest Rock Island.

In a meeting with Quad-Cities legislators, Ms. Madigan said that, while she wouldn’t rescind the opinion, she would help write legislation that would clearly give the Illinois Gaming Board authority to approve a proposed move by the Casino Rock Island from its downtown Rock Island location to a site near Interstate 280 and Illinois 92. […]

Passing new legislation has many potential pitfalls, Sen. Jacobs said. He is concerned about an anti-gaming attitude that pervades the House, and is unsure whether Gov. Rod Blagojevich would sign a gaming bill. He also raised concerns that the initial vision of any bill introducednow would be changed by the time it is voted on.

That’s no overstatement. Any gaming legislation automatically becomes a potential Christmas tree.

- Posted by Rich Miller   12 Comments      


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