Sunday, July 15, 2012

Criminal investigations focused on two DPS staffers over homeland security contracts

Rare and welcome coverage yesterday by Brenda Bell at the Statesman of contracting irregularities at the Department of Public Safety in a story which opened:
The Travis County district attorney's office is pursuing two separate criminal investigations into contracting irregularities at the Texas Department of Public Safety, the American-Statesman has learned.

The investigations follow the departure of two high-level DPS employees in the past 18 months: Janice Bruno, director of the State Administrative Agency, which handled more than $1 billion in federal Homeland Security grants between 2006 and 2011, and Mark Doggett, the chief information technology officer for DPS. ...
DPS Director Steven McCraw suspended Bruno in December 2010 and ordered an investigation by the Texas Rangers into a procurement agreement initiated by Bruno with the North Central Texas Council of Governments in Arlington to create a centralized computer system for managing Homeland Security grants all over the state.
Ms. Bruno insists she did nothing wrong and said she welcomed a grand jury investigation.  But she's not the only one from DPS in trouble over homeland security contracts:
A second and apparently unrelated DPS investigation began in March of this year after McCraw suspended Doggett, citing "allegations of misconduct." Doggett resigned in April and could not be reached for comment.
Doggett was in charge of the information technology division of DPS, which runs the law enforcement agency's statewide databases for criminal records and motor vehicle registrations, among other things. This year, the division spent $29 million for outsourced computer programming, through professional services contracts that do not require competitive bids.

DPS denied the Statesman's request for more information about the Doggett matter, saying public disclosure would interfere with the ongoing criminal investigation. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott's open records division supported the denial.
With DPS having outsourced so many homeland security functions to private contractors, contract and grant oversight becomes a much more important function for the agency. That's a specialized skill set and not necessarily already part of somebody's job description when an agency outsources this or that function. DPS historically has had trouble managing operations outside its regular command structure, and Grits won't be surprised if the recent raft of homeland security contracts becomes an ongoing source of trouble for Col. Steve McCraw.


Anonymous said...

Mark Twain said that "it could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class, except Congress." I think we could add government official in general.

Anonymous said...

TX DPS IS CORRUPT. NO VENDOR can get a fair shake. Everything is 'fixed' for certain friends of the upper management and top dogs.

I've written before on this site about how things have been going on at that agency for years.

Purchasing needs to be investigated by the DA, as obviously the Executive Director is too busy signing EMERGENCY ACQUISITION CONTRACTS into the $Millions$ for his friends.

Governor Perry probably has a hand in all this too, as he's been on the take for years too. Where there's power there's corruption.

Anonymous said...

I always knew TDCJ was as corrupt as they come. Run by criminals if you ask me. But now to DPS is too. Is there a state agency in Texas that is not corrupt? A LEO agency in Texas not corrupt? Is Texas just one big corrupt state? Oh-well, I guess this is what the voters wanted?

A Texas PO said...

This is rather tame stuff compared to what's been going on in our territories since Homeland Security grants became available. But it looks like there may have been untrained people in charge of very detailed and complicated grants. I see a counter-suit being brought against the state in the future for lack of training. I certainly hope malicious intent was not a part of this.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it's time for federal oversight of DPS. They are the king of brother-in-law shenanigans. And they are ramping up plans for big pay raises as well to go along with some of the 90K-115K pay rates in place today. Not many agencies can investigate themselves when they get caught