Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner says the Gaming Control Board did not follow the state Sunshine Act and protocol in awarding $7 million in contracts for legal services and more. Wagner’s review of 23 service contracts turned up “serious flaws”, and, what’s more, the board did not hold open meetings to award contracts.To top it off, records were either not kept or ever recorded to show how those contracting decisions were made “The single most important mission of the Gaming Control Board is to reassure the public that the gaming industry in Pennsylvania is being professionally run and to protect its integrity,”Wagner said. “Issuing contracts behind closed doors only undermines that mission.”The Sunshine Act compels state run offices to carry out much of the bidding process and subsequent awarding of projects in the open during meetings.The audit, took an invasive look at contracts from 2006 thru 2009, finding that 19 out out of the 23 contracts failed to comply with transparency found within the Sunshine Act.The board’s regular meeting minutes are incomplete making it difficult to determine what the governing board knew about those contracts.Wagner’s office says the board maintains that ‘the contracting decisions were made appropriately and not in a secretive manner.’“The absence of documentation to support claims made about selected vendors is a serious problem, Wagner said. “Without such documentation, the Board cannot assure the public, the General Assembly, gaming entities or other service providers that it selected the service providers in the commonwealth’s best interest.”And that is not all Wagner’s audit turned up, the Gaming Board, according to the audit, spent money like drunken sailors, on travel; totaling nearly $2 million.Among the findings:· Governing board members and some top staff unnecessarily claimed meal reimbursements at two and one-half times more than the state’s standard reimbursement rate, · Four governing board members and a staff executive spent at least $33,000 for a trip to Rome.· Governing board members did not justify their stays at expensive hotels, and received reimbursements for rooms paid for of guests who traveled with the Gaming officials.Auditors found that 39 of 135, or 28.8 percent, of meal vouchers were submitted for reimbursements at the maximum enhanced rate that was as high as $152.50, compared with the maximum standard rate of $61.Wagner proposed more than one dozen ways to fix suspicious awards and overspending. If you are interested in seeing all the fine print of this audit, and one that was conducted in 2009 — let Rock The Capital steer you in the right direction.
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