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CMS audit finds lots of problems

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2006

Another negative audit of the Blagojevich administration.

State auditors said Tuesday the Illinois Department of Central Management Services remains rife with waste and mismanagement a year after they first uncovered major problems at the agency.

Many of the problems uncovered in the latest audit mirror those documented in 2005, including contracts awarded without explanatory documentation, failing to monitor expenses submitted by contractors for reimbursement, and paying contractors at rates higher than stipulated in contracts.

However, the agency’s response is markedly different than a year ago, when it challenged virtually all of the findings of Auditor General William Holland’s auditors. This time, CMS said it accepts the recommendations made by auditors to improve operations and is in the process of implementing them.

Last year, Holland turned his findings over to Attorney General Lisa Madigan for investigation of possible criminal wrongdoing. Holland said Tuesday he did not turn the current audit over to Madigan because it did not uncover anything new.

It did note 17 problems repeated from last year, meaning they had not been resolved during the period reviewed by auditors.

“There are significant problems with CMS in this audit,” Holland said. “We had 22 findings, of which 17 are repeated. This is certainly not good news.”

The AP story is here. A brief list of findings is here. The full audit can be found here.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - DOWNSTATE - Wednesday, Apr 26, 06 @ 8:31 am:

    It takes leadership to fix problems and the state has none.

  2. - anon - Wednesday, Apr 26, 06 @ 9:02 am:

    CMS spokesman Justin DeJong placed blame for many of the repeat findings on the timing of the two audits. The first was released in April 2005. The audit released Tuesday covered a period from July 1, 2004, to June 30, 2005.

    “I think the repeat findings would be the result of the audit cycle to a great extent,” DeJong said. “The agency had just two months to make changes based on his recommendations. We fully expected the possibility of repeat findings.”

  3. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Apr 26, 06 @ 9:26 am:

    This administration thinks centralized government works. Look at his policies and you see 20th Century social planning. Look at his administration’s business practices, and you see them attempt to put everything under CMS. This thinking went out with the USSR. Whatever happened to making government adopt modern business practices?

    In the meantime, Blagojevich had been creating a central bureaucracy. Instead of pitching woo to several saavy decision makers in various state agencies, businesses wanting Illinois cash just stop, drop and roll at CMS. Businesses pretend to save the State money with this system, but what they are really getting is a larger cash trough of tax dollars with fewer watchdogs.

    As we have clearly seen, when you have a pay to play governor with a centralized bureaucracy, it becomes easier to collect campaign contributions, easier to get deals done, but harder to prove savings, audit, enforcement, and management.

    Blagojevich’s minions are wallowing in the 1950’s business models, when most businesses that had used these methods are now out of business.

    The bottom line is; did Blagojevich really think this is how to run government, or was he just setting us up to create a non-stop campaign funding machine? With 15-20 million in the bank, he can do what he does best; play dumb and get rich.

  4. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Apr 26, 06 @ 10:33 am:

    Come on, VanillaMan. Paul Campbell drones on and on and on about “best practices”. Same speech he has given for three years. CMS’ one and only purpose is distributing contracts and jobs to campaign donors.

    Oh, and that new way of doing business? It’s the Chicago Democrat machine way of doing business.

  5. - The original Bill - Wednesday, Apr 26, 06 @ 10:50 am:

    “As we have clearly seen, when you have a pay to play governor with a centralized bureaucracy, it becomes easier to collect campaign contributions, easier to get deals done…”
    Quit talking about George Ryan, he has enough trouble. Fortunately, we elected Rod Blaogjevich who has been working hard for the last 3 1/2 years to clean up the mess.

  6. - anon - Wednesday, Apr 26, 06 @ 11:32 am:

    I was curious to see what others where saying about shared services in government… dug this up from Government Technology Magazine:

    News Staff Feb 16, 2005
    The majority of government executives believe that shared services are important to helping them achieve their organizations’ strategic goals, according to a study released recently by Accenture.

    As part of the study, “Driving High Performance in Government: Maximizing the Value of Public Sector Shared Services” Accenture interviewed more than 140 senior executives at all levels of governments across 13 countries in Europe, North America, the Asia Pacific region and Africa. The goal was to identify their views on and use of shared services — which Accenture defines as the consolidation of administrative or support functions (such as human resources, finance, information technology and procurement) from several departments or agencies into a single, stand-alone entity to provide services as efficiently and effectively as possible.

    Eighty-five percent said they believe that shared services are playing or will play a role in supporting their organizations’ strategic goals. In addition, two-thirds (66 percent) of the government executives reported that they had already implemented, or were in the process of implementing, shared services, while 6 percent of respondents said they would not even consider a shared services model. The most common processes found in government shared services are related to information technology, finance and human resources.

    The study also found that moving to a shared services model gives organizations the opportunity to shift budget from administrative activities to front-line, citizen-facing services, helping to drive out significant cost reductions while at the same time improving government services.

    The top three objectives for shared services identified by respondents were to help meet efficiency targets, facilitate cost reductions, and address citizen demands for improved services. The respondents also acknowledged an array of other value-oriented shared services objectives, including strategic benefits (e.g. through standardized processing environments and improved systems) and improved service quality and speed of delivery.

    Among other key findings:
    Most governments in-source their own shared services centers, although many rely on outside expertise during planning.

    The unique nature of governments sets up some very specific challenges to shared services, such as a lack of the necessary managerial skills to tackle a transformational change program or a lack of clear leadership support or top-level commitment to change.

    While two-thirds of the government executives interviewed said they have started to implement some key components of a true shared services operating model, few have implemented them all; thus few have realized the full potential of their shared services strategies.

  7. - Budget Watcher - Wednesday, Apr 26, 06 @ 11:35 am:

    Original Bill,

    Working to reorganize the mess, maybe. Clean it up? No. Read the audit findings for the past two years. These are not George Ryan contracts that Bill Holland has referred to the AG. These are new contracts. A lot of disturbing things have gone on in CMS in the last 3 years and you can’t blame GR.

  8. - Ethel - Wednesday, Apr 26, 06 @ 12:11 pm:

    Original Bill: If you have ever had to deal with CMS for anything, you wouldn’t be saying this. From not bothering to pay rent on leased facilities (state police investigative office in Pittsfield was evicted for non-payment, and there is a problem with a police lab) to trying to have a new phone installed, CMS appears incapable of doing anything quickly. Doing anything correctly is also another serious issue.

    These significant problems for the code agencies have definately increased with the current administration.

  9. - Anon - Wednesday, Apr 26, 06 @ 12:35 pm:

    Thats the idea, make it almost impossible to get anything done and then report all of the ’savings’!!!

  10. - Papa Legba - Wednesday, Apr 26, 06 @ 3:01 pm:

    Original Bill - Ouch! I think we all became a bit dumber from reading your post.

  11. - scoot - Wednesday, Apr 26, 06 @ 3:33 pm:

    And the real problem is….this administration doesn’t care about the audits. But, they do care about phony town hall meetings and raising campaign cash. What is it…10 months and counting for “public official A”

  12. - Great Adlai's Ghost - Wednesday, Apr 26, 06 @ 6:16 pm:

    The CMS director loves sending system-wide self-congratulating e-mails every week to his staff touting how successful all the new practices he’s implementing are, that they have won awards from obscure but authoritative-sounding organizations nobody’s ever heard of, and are being held up as national examples. It’s all a put-up job, more of that Politcal puffery: no significant change has occured since Blago, except to paste a new layer of inexperienced, misinformed and corrupt mismanagement over the top of what was already a damaged operation, starved of resources and autonomy.

    CMS was created in the late 70’s in the first place to do these “shared services”, that’s what Central Management Services means, but many of the major components junder it’s purview have been taken out of house in the past few years and given over to private sector contractors with little supervision or accountability. Things like the motor pool have been privatized so that car leases and maintenance now cost a third more than they did when it was all done “in house”. But bill Holland can tell you, it’s merely an accounting and semantics game they are playing, saying they are “saving” all this money by no longer doing certain work in house, yet not admitting the work is being done more expensively by private contractors. Contractors with suspicious ties to contributions. Same goes for computers, etc.

    And Accenture, a believeable source? Please! Accenture is their new name, they had to change it because they were such an integral part of Enron’s shenaningans under the old name, they lost all their corporate business.

    Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain…

  13. - Swami - Wednesday, Apr 26, 06 @ 9:55 pm:

    The state procurement process is not rocket science. CMS minions must be total idiots. All contracts that audits disclose violations of state law should be canceled immediately.

  14. - You want it WHEN? - Wednesday, Apr 26, 06 @ 11:50 pm:

    Swami, you would be about right. If it’s a simple commodity like printer paper, something like that, they kind of understand it. But their problem is they treat EVERYTHING like that, and it is like talking to a wall to tell them something important about what you want and how you want it. We needed some specialty equipment for our agency one time, and there was no mechanism in place for us to simply state our technical needs and talk directly to the procurement officers. Everything went thru at least three layers of gatekeepers who never returned a call about the status of the project, and strangely, seemed to not want a lot of detail from us regarding what we wanted… After long waits, we’d get back a terse note that the process failed somehow or a vendor was disqualified for an obscure reason, and we had to start from scratch, but not why or how. It was like the entire process was rigged to discourage any requests as much as possible, thus saving money, I guess… Getting our list of needs to match their paperwork was like trying to play Milton Bradley’s “Battleship”: you have to guess at everything and afterwards they tell you if it was a hit or a miss. When we had continuous problems with one vendor who was always winning contracts on price but was totally inept at service, we took our concerns to procurement, only to be totally ignored, time and again. They live in a bubble over there. Oh God, don’t get me started on their processes for getting or upgrading software. Anything besides another off the shelf copy of MS Word or Excel, and their heads pop off. There’s a big disconnect in the flow of information between the clients and the people authorizing; so many intermediate layers of people who bring nothing to the mix except delays and the opportunity to skew the process for political considerations.

    I don’t believe outsourcing can fix any of this if those intervening layers remain, and they would.

    “Award-winning Procurement”, my…

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