During the past five years, the Texas Juvenile Justice Department relied heavily on change orders to pay for construction work that was not within the scope of the original contracts and failed to document the changes as required, a new audit revealed Friday.
In addition, the internal audit found that in more than half of the files examined, change orders that required the approval of top agency officials had none.
The audit does not provide detail on the contracts. Officials said Friday that those details were not immediately available.
The agency and its predecessor had more than $35.3 million in construction projects under way or queued up during the period that the auditors reviewed. While they reviewed only nine contracts in detail, such samples are commonly used as an indicator of potentially larger problems.
Robin McKeever, the agency's deputy executive director, who was previously chief financial officer with purview over contracts, said that eight of the nine contracts examined in the audit had change orders — more than 30 orders, in all.
On Friday, the agency's 13-member governing board approved new policies designed to curb those problems — the latest issue to buffet a department facing a legislative investigation over safety and security lapses at the Giddings State School and other lockups.
Tuesday, May 08, 2012
TJJD contracts questioned
An audit found poor documentation for much of the construction and other contract spending by the Texas Youth Commission, now the Juvenile Justice Department, reported the Austin Statesman's Mike Ward on Saturday. The story opened: