Missouri’s contracting process was “abused” under the previous chief public safety officer, according to a recently-released report.
The audit was initiated at the request of Gov. Mike Parson following a “concerning” internal review of the Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of the Director (OD). Released on Wednesday, the in-depth examination covers the tenure of then-Director Drew Juden, who was appointed by former Gov. Eric Greitens.
“Under the former Director’s administration, the DPS-OD abused the state’s single feasible source purchasing process and made multiple improper and questionable payments to benefit an organization the former Director was affiliated with prior to becoming the Director of DPS,” the audit concluded. “The related transactions circumvented the appropriation process and were not in the best interest of the Department of Public Safety or the state.”
Sandy Karsten, then the Missouri State Highway Patrol colonel, was appointed as the head of the Department of Public Safety on August 27, 2018. Juden resigned at the end of August.
The Department of Public Safety oversees eight agencies — including the Highway Patrol, Missouri National Guard, and Veterans Commission — and roughly 15,000 employees.
Upon assuming the role of director, Karsten requested the Office of Administration conduct an initial review of the DPS director’s office. The internal review led to Parson seeking a full audit from the state auditor’s office. The cost of the audit is paid from Parson’s office budget.
The main concern the audit focused on was the use of the state’s single feasible source purchasing process for the coordination of fingerprint technology at local law enforcement agencies.
Previously, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, at no cost to the state, managed the coordination and installation of fingerprint technology at local law enforcement agencies. Under Juden, DPS contracted services to the Missouri Police Chiefs Charitable Foundation for about $58,000 — approximately 3 percent of program costs for coordination.
Juden served as chairman of the Board of Directors for the Missouri Police Chiefs Charitable Foundation before heading DPS.
“The DPS-OD provided false assertions to the OA Division of Purchasing in its request to have the Missouri Police Chiefs Charitable Foundation (MPCCF) designated a single feasible source vendor. The request was approved based on the information provided,” the audit asserted.
According to the DPS-OD’s single feasible source request, the MPCCF previously received a 5 percent administration fee from the state for providing project management services related to using federal grant funding to purchase equipment for local law enforcement agencies. The audit noted representatives from both the MPCCF and the MSHP indicated this information was inaccurate, and the MPCCF never received any administration fee for such services.
The audit also scrutinized when DPS paid for the services.
The state cut a check on June 25, 2018, prior to a contract, for $1.25 million to the MPCCF. Local law enforcement received the equipment 5 to 6 months later. The MPCCF paid the vendor for the equipment about eight months after receiving taxpayer funds.
“The state treasury did not earn approximately $16,000 in interest as a result of the premature removal of these funds from state accounts,” the audit stated.
The Missouri Police Chiefs Association did not immediately return a request for comment.
The complete audit can be found here.
Alisha Shurr was a reporter for The Missouri Times and The Missouri Times Magazine. She joined The Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University.