State Auditor Nicole Galloway last week released a report raising concerns about the process used by the Missouri Department of Public Safety (DPS) under the agency's former director when awarding and managing a contract for the coordination of fingerprint technology at local law enforcement agencies.
"Missourians should have confidence their tax dollars are being used appropriately and that contracts are awarded in a way that gets the very best return on their investment. No one should think they are above those rules," Auditor Galloway said. "That's why it's so troubling that this audit uncovered deliberate actions to try to sidestep these policies."
The audit examining the administrative practices of the Office of the Director of the DPS was conducted at the request of Gov. Mike Parson after an internal review raised concerns about questionable use of taxpayer dollars. Based on concerns outlined by DPS, the audit covered the period of January 2017 through August 2018, during which the director was Charles "Drew" Juden. The cost of the audit is being paid from the Gov. Parson's office budget.
Under Juden, the DPS changed the way the department managed the coordination and installation of fingerprint technology at local law enforcement agencies. Previously, those services were provided by the Missouri State Highway Patrol at no cost to the state. When renewing the contract, the Office of the Director did not contact the Patrol about providing these services. Instead, the DPS awarded a contract to the Missouri Police Chiefs Charitable Foundation for these services for approximately $58,000.
In order to get the contract approved through the state's procurement process, DPS provided false information to the Office of Administration about the nature of the funding and past work of the foundation.
In June 2018, DPS paid approximately $1.25 million to the foundation for payment to the fingerprint technology vendor, but the equipment was not delivered to local law enforcement agencies for another five to six months. It's believed the early payment was designed to prevent the appropriation from going unspent during the 2018 fiscal year. However, the payment was made without a written contract in place and violated other existing contracts.
The audit also highlighted concerns that the former DPS director's annual leave and state vehicle use. During his time as director, Juden did not claim any annual leave despite the appearance of taking multiple vacations, including working days he was apparently in Florida
Both former director Juden and former deputy director were assigned full-time department vehicles. Neither maintained vehicle usage logs, as required by DPS policy. Vehicle usage by Juden averaged 2,956 miles a month, approximately 44% higher than DPS directors both prior to and after his administration.
The DPS responded to the audit findings by agreeing with the recommendations and committing to continued improvement.
"I am encouraged that the current Public Safety Director agrees with the audit's recommendations and has said her department is taking steps to implement them," Auditor Galloway said.