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.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.
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.