Iowa audit reveals one agency overbilled another

DES MOINES – A division of the Iowa Department of Human Rights overbilled the Iowa Department of Public Safety more than $25,000 for a project to update a criminal history record database maintained by DPS, according to a state audit released Tuesday.

The audit found poor record keeping and billing not supported by time sheets.

The Division of Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning, a state office within the Department of Human Rights admitted the errors and has repaid the DPS.

The audit shows the DPS entered a contract with the juvenile justice planning division to pay up to $40,000 to update the criminal records between October 2011 and September 2012.

The project was designed to synchronize records kept by DPS with Federal Bureau of Investigation and the federal Criminal Justice Information System data.

For the project, referred to as the Rapsheet Syncing Project, the DPS agreed to pay a staff member at the Division of Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning $48.96 an hour to do the work up to a maximum of $40,000. The final bill came to $40,147.20, but the DPS agreed to pay the maximum in the contract.

In their annual routine review of records of the Department of Human Rights, state auditors found billings not supported by time sheet records.

Auditors said the employee assigned to do the work told them the recorded time was assigned to him by a division administrator and did not reflect the actual time he spent working on the projects each day.

As a result, the auditors concluded the time sheet information “cannot be relied upon to determine an appropriate billing amount.”

The auditors studied the computer system the employee assigned to the project used and estimated the DPS should have been charged for 304 hours instead of the 820 hours billed. Auditors concluded the total billing should have been $14,900 instead of $40,000 and said the DPS was owed $25,100.

“Our department has repaid that amount to the Department of Public Safety, so that has been taken care of and we’ve taken measures internally by directing staff to log their time,” said Danielle Plogmann, a spokeswoman for the Department of Human Rights.

The department did not contest the findings in the audit.

“We acknowledge there was poor record-keeping pertaining to staff allocation of time on the project, a problem we have taken steps to correct consistent with the recommendations of the audit report,” the department wrote in a response included in the audit report. “The department also agrees billing on the project was done in an inconsistent manner. The department has taken steps to ensure similar situations will not arise in the future.”