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Stitt requests OMES audit after agency says it needs $16 million

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The dome on the state Capitol fades into fog in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019. [NATE BILLINGS/THE OKLAHOMAN]
The dome on the state Capitol fades into fog in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019. [NATE BILLINGS/THE OKLAHOMAN]

Gov. Kevin Stitt has requested an audit of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services, the agency that recently told lawmakers it needed $16 million to pay its bills before July 1.

Stitt, along with Chief Operating Officer John Budd, announced the request would be limited to the finances at the agency's Information Services Division (ISD) between July 1, 2017, and Feb. 28 of this year.

“We expect all state agencies to be accountable to Oklahoma taxpayers,” Stitt said. “OMES is no exception. We have every reason to believe that OMES has unmet funding needs for the Information Services Division, as noted in the agency’s supplemental budget request. At the same time, as we have spent the first two months of our administration digging into ISD’s finances, we believe that an outside-in view of the division’s budgeting, billing, accounts receivable and accounts payable processes will help us better understand the inherited cash-flow issues and how we can make permanent improvements.”

The agency originally asked lawmakers for a $23 million supplemental appropriation in October. Budd said that he worked to reduce that number by a third and continues to look for ways to more efficiently run the agency.

"We are looking at the funding model. The current audit is more looking at the past history and how we got to this place, but at the same time we recognize we have to look for what's the right way to fund IT in the state of Oklahoma," Budd said. "We're just looking for the truth. We're not coming into it with suspicions. We just want an accounting of how did the money come in and where did it go."

Much of the revenue going into the agency's coffers comes from other agencies as it provides IT, purchasing, budgeting and personnel services.

The Legislature is considering a bill that would split information technology services away from OMES into its own agency while making it easier for agencies to manage more of their own IT infrastructure. OMES officials have criticized the plan, highlighting the consolidation effort that has saved millions of dollars and secured a vast swath of vulnerable computer systems and data managed by the state.

Stitt said he opposes a breakup because it's common sense to consolidate protection of personal data like Social Security numbers, tax records and other information.

"All the things that we need to protect, I can't have that spread across 120 different agencies," he said.

Dale Denwalt

Dale Denwalt has closely followed state policy and politics since his first internship as an Oklahoma Capitol reporter in 2006. He graduated from Northeastern State University in his hometown of Tahlequah. Denwalt worked as a news reporter in... Read more ›

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