I have long held the belief of even a penny of misspend taxpayer money is unacceptable. When I read a news account about how the Office of Inspector General (OIG) wasted $160,000 of taxpayer dollars on unused pistols, ammunition and other equipment for its investigators, I was, to put it politely, very displeased.
To be fair to the OIG, they were given arrest and investigation power like other law enforcement agencies in 2017. They submitted a bid in January 2018 and awarded the contract in April 2018. Then, at some point by some unknown entity, the OIG received notification they were not allowed to carry handguns, after all the government required sign offs for the purchase. A “miscommunication” in the executive branch led to $160,000 in wasted taxpayer funds.
There are two other disturbing issues with this purchase:
(1) The contract was never publicly posted.
(2) The General Assembly increased OIG’s budget by $380,000 this fiscal year, over double the wasted $160,000.
Pennsylvania has a reputation for corruption. It cannot be tolerated any longer. As the chairman of the House Government Oversight Committee and a champion of transparency, good financial management, increased government efficiency and ending fraud, waste and abuse, I will not rest until it is eradicated and Pennsylvania government works for the people, not against them.
To prevent this one example of wasteful spending and other such incidents from happening again, I urge the Senate to approve House Bill 1502 to codify the state treasurer’s Transparency Portal. The aim of this bill is simple: Give the public the power of knowing how their tax dollars are being spent. This sort of information shouldn’t be tucked away. Rather, it should be readily and easily available to the public.
In light of this receive revelation of misspent money, I would like to see my House Bill 1502 amended in the Senate to ensure contracts of any state government entity are available for public scrutiny before the contracts are signed.
Furthermore, members of the House should be aware of the bipartisan government fraud and improper payment legislation I plan to introduce to deter further government waste across state agencies. Every misspent or fraudulently used dollar is another dollar hard-working taxpayers have to make up.
By supporting this package of bills, legislators can let taxpayers rest easy knowing new internal controls would be in place to eradicate government waste, fraud and abuse. A great light has been shown on the problem of misspent tax dollars. It is now up to the Legislature to get to work and fix these systemic issues.
Representative Seth Grove
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Greg Gross