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Thursday, October 3, 2013

City's purchasing practices point to potential for abuse

What is so hard about 'just and capable'?
A perennial problem pointed out in Plainfield's annual audits is continued improprieties in the Purchasing Division. 2012 is no exception.

Once again the auditors, Supplee, Clooney, cite the failure of the Purchasing Division to maintain the state-required encumbrance system designed to guarantee against overspending and/or improper spending of funds.

Here is the pertinent section from the auditor's report --

The City has a purchasing division which is responsible for all the purchasing needs of the various divisions, including obtaining prices, bids, quotes, awarding contracts, etc.

We noted that numerous purchases are made directly by various division heads and not through the Division of Purchasing as required by the City's administrative code. As a result, funds are not encumbered against amounts appropriated before goods or services are ordered and purchases are made without any certification of availability of funds obtained from the Comptroller. In effect, the controls that minimize the possibility of over-expenditures and unauthorized purchases are not in operation.

In addition, the encumbrance accounting system required by the Division of Local Government Services cannot be adequately maintained.

We noted that numerous purchase orders from prior years are still open in the grant fund. Purchase orders should be reviewed periodically and cancelled if no longer valid.

Our review of expenditures disclosed that purchases of services were not always charged to the correct budget line item.
The language is polite, but the implications are anything but.

Division heads -- and even Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs -- have bent or broken the rules to spend city funds in an inappropriate manner.

Recreation has been a perennial abuser of the purchasing system as have some other units. Mayor Robinson-Briggs personally abused the purchasing system in the notorious WBLS broadcast funding of 2011, and again as recently as a recent event at Hannah Atkins Playground where she attempted a 'rob Peter to pay Paul' maneuver.

With a new Purchasing Agent (CindyLea Weber) and a new administration to set to take up the reins on January 1, we can only hope that the long era of abuse in the purchasing process is coming to an end.

About time, if you ask me.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Anonymous said...

UGH! When will this stop? When will the people in this city wise up and see that they have been robbed? Two terms - where are people's heads?

Anonymous said...

"Potential," you say? Hah!

Anonymous said...

Gerry Green told Sharron when WE become Mayor, WE can do what WE want, spend on what WE want,when WE want. Now the taxpayers are paying the high price for the way they voted in the past 8 years. Lets hope the voters will make change this next election.

Anonymous said...

This comment has been on the audit the last 16 years (encumbrance system)Grants are managed by audit and control( Finance ) and should be balanced at the end of each year.Hopefully under new administration and new Purchasing Agent these findings will be corrected.Time will tell.