Poor US purchasing report 'tip of iceberg'

3 November 2009

3 November 2009 | Jake Kanter

A damning audit of state procurement in Pennsylvania in the US "only scratches the surface", the Service Employees International Union has said.

Welcoming last month's review by the Department of the Auditor General (DAG), the union said it was "the tip of the iceberg" of waste in Pennsylvania state purchasing procedures.

The union, which represents 2.1 million healthcare, public and property services workers in North America, was referring to the DAG's special performance audit, Procurement of Deloitte Contracts. This found the cost of IT service deals awarded to the consultancy in January 2004 increased 55 per cent to $592 million (£360 million) by December 2007, as a result of changed orders, "emergency contracts" and lack of competitive tendering.

Auditor general Jack Wagner also uncovered "shoddy monitoring and record-keeping" and said problems indicated "potential flaws" in Pennsylvania's contracting processes (Web news, 23 October).

Union president Kathy Jellison said governor Edward Rendell's administration had also purchased software that doesn't work and is costing the state "millions of lost dollars in waste, inefficiencies, and reduced productivity".

Union members have reported the systems are not operating properly, but their suggestions for improvement have been ignored, Jellison said. "The reaction we have got from the administration is the same as auditor general Wagner got - they think everything is fine the way it is."

The Department of General Services (DGS), which oversees the state's purchasing, was unavailable for comment.

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