Auditors recommend prisons decentralize purchasing but centralize maintenance

Auditors Monday recommended the prison system centralize its preventative maintenance contracts for the various institutions into a single budget account under Prison Director Bob Bayer.

At the same time, auditor Mike Colburn told the Audit Committee headed by Gov. Kenny Guinn some purchasing for items such as tools should be handled on-site by each institution to eliminate red tape.

There were no estimates on the potential cost savings.

The recommendation says preventative and emergency maintenance funds should be combined so that the director could spend the money where it is needed without one institution worrying that they must skip preventative maintenance in case there is some emergency need. It also pointed out that maintenance expenditures haven't kept pace with inflation and that the department needs to put more money into keeping its prison facilities in good shape.

It also recommended the prison system develop a more comprehensive maintenance plan and ensure that the different institutions have the funding and staff they need to keep the prisons in good condition.

In the case of purchases, however, auditors went the other direction, labeling the current, centralized system too bureaucratic. They said it takes nearly a month going through that system to get small tools, plumbing and electrical supplies to the maintenance technician who needs them.

Instead, Colburn told the committee, the department should give its institutions a state Commercial Card that allows them to buy small items much more quickly and cheaply.

Bayer said he supports both recommendations.


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