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Colorado Energy Office has no idea how much its programs cost

Greg Campbell
Contributor

In speaking to staff members responsible for eight projects, auditors found the staffers poorly informed about their projects, to the point where some couldn’t even say what the projects were meant to do.

“For three of the eight programs, program managers could not identify the program goals and therefore could not say whether the goals had been achieved,” the audit states. “Additionally, the program managers could not identify when their programs had been established, or how or why each program was created. …”

“If a program manager does not have access to basic fiscal and performance information about his or her program, he or she will be unable to make well-informed program management decisions,” the audit states.

State Sen. Steve King, a member of the Legislative Audit Committee, said the audit shows that CEO acted as Ritter’s “slush fund” that gave him the ability to “move money wherever it needed to be moved.”

“It’s pretty apparent that that is true,” he said at Tuesday’s committee meeting. “The idea that you have eight program mangers and none of them could identify budget or spending, it’s apparent that there wasn’t best practices under our previous administration.”

Auditors also examined payments to contractors and found a similar laissez-faire approach to details, such as failing to require that contractors submit regular progress reports, a requirement for CEO to continue paying the contractor.

Of the 22 contracts examined during the audit, nearly all had missing or incomplete information, including dates, the purpose of the contract and the correct amount of the contract.

Thirteen of the contracts examined, with a total value of $42 million, were missing required paperwork, but CEO still made payments on some of them.

“(We) found that for 10 expenditures totaling $1.5 million, the contract monitor authorized payment without adequate supporting evidence of contractor progress,” according to the audit. “For two contractor payments totaling about $44,000, payment was made without any evidence of contractor reports for the period. For the remaining eight payments totaling about $1.45 million, the contract file did include some progress reports, but the reports were not dated and thus we could not determine whether the reports supported the payments.”

The shoddy record-keeping extended to expense reports meant to justify payments for staff training, travel and other costs. Paperwork for such expenses was often incomplete, such as a $25,000 expense that was listed only as being for “2008 Membership,” but with no further documentation as to who or what the membership was for.

An expense report for a $1,400 roundtrip flight on the state plane between Denver and Alamosa for a former director and a staffer — which would have cost $236 if they drove both ways— includes no information on why the state plane was needed or what the trip was for.

In four cases, approval for directors’ travel expenses was signed by subordinate employees when they should have been approved by the governor’s office.