Local Politics

Audit: State agencies overpay for temps

Posted January 6, 2009 11:41 a.m. EST

— Five state agencies paid temporary staffing agencies about $3.5 million too much over two and a half years because they didn't seek competitive bids for the service, according to an audit released Tuesday.

The State Auditor's Office reviewed the use of temporary workers in the state Department of Health and Human Services, the state Department of Transportation, the State Treasurer's Office, the state Wildlife Resources Commission and the state Office of Information Technology Services between July 2005 and January 2008. The five agencies spent $28 million combined on temps from eight providers during that period.

More than $18 million in contracts for temporary workers were issued without any competitive bidding, according to the audit. State law requires bids for purchases over $10,000.

Managers in the agencies told auditors that they didn't seek bids because of time constraints and because state law provides exceptions to bidding for "employment contracts" and "personal services." The auditors recommended clarifying the language in state law to avoid further confusion.

Auditors also recommended that state personnel officials write a standard contract to minimize the business and legal risks of using temporary workers, such as challenges for state benefits.

Agencies also need to require staffing agencies to screen for retired state workers so that retirees don't collect state retirement benefits while exceeding the earnings limits set by the state Retirement System, the audit said.