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State Audit Finds Problems at Texas Office of Violent Sex Offender Management

The Texas State Auditor's Office released an audit report on the Office of Violent Sex Offender Management (Office) in January 2015. The report listed many problems, including a lack of controls over the management of some contracting and financial processes.

The report criticized the Office's frequent use of memoranda of understanding instead of contracts for the provision of treatment, transportation and other services for the civilly committed sexually violent predators (SVPs). The Office spent a total of 67% ($7.5 million) of its $11.2 million budget from September 1, 2011, through May 31, 2014 (33 months) on such services, but did not have proper controls for planning, procurement, contract formation, rate/price establishment, contract oversight, budgeting, or review of expenditures. The Office also had insufficient controls over the fees paid by SVPs for the GPS tracking required by state statute and access to the Office's computerized case management system.

The Office simply did not conduct any formal planning. It also had no internal budget. Thus, it could not know whether contracts would cover the services needed in the future, whether treatment totals remained within the statutory maximum of $10,000 per SVP per year or even whether sufficient funds had been allocated to pay for the contracts.

The auditors tested 54 contracts. One had been cancelled due to vendor fraud in misrepresenting itself as a Texas limited liability corporation. The other 53 were all open-enrollment contracts awarded without soliciting formal bids. "[T]he contracts did not contain detailed descriptions of the services contractors would provide, how much those services would cost, sanctions for nonperformance, or evidence of legal review of the contract terms.”

Testing 115 expenditures totaling $1,110,140, auditors found that 45 (39%) either lacked adequate supporting documentation for the associated service and/or were for services not specified in the contract. These totaled $54,018 (4.9% of the expenditures tested).

From September 2011 to May 2014, the Office collected $140,072 in fees the SVPs were required to pay for the mandatory GPS monitoring and tracking. During that period, the Office paid $557,275 for GPS services. "Office case managers determine how much a sexually violent predator will pay, collect the fee, send the fee in for deposit, and input the amount paid into the Office's case management system. Auditors could not find evidence that the Office used the revenue from the fees it collected to offset the cost of the GPS system, as statute requires."

The Office did not have adequate controls over its computerized case management system. The system also includes information used for invoices from treatment providers and transportation drivers. Auditors identified 14 former employees and contractors who retained access to the system, two of whom at the administrator level.

In 2014, a series of critical articles appearing in the Houston Chronicle resulted in the resignation of the Office's executive director, deputy director, general counsel and three program specialists. Another program specialist and the receptionist were transferred to other state agencies. Fifteen case managers retained their employment.

The new management cooperated with the auditors and agreed with the report's findings, promising to correct the deficiencies found by the auditors.

Source: An Audit Report on The Office of Violent Sex Offender Management, Texas State Auditor's Office, Report No. 15-0i8.

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