State regulators are told their agency is clean when it comes to competitive bidding


The State Auditor’s recent audit that found alleged competitive bidding violations because of policies at the state Office of Management and Enterprise Services was the topic of discussion at Thursday’s Oklahoma Corporation Commission meeting.

What Commissioners Todd Hiett and Bob Anthony learned was their state agency is in full compliance with the Oklahoma Purchasing Act and its exclusion from the scathing FY2022 Single Audit Report of multiple agencies recently released by the Office of the State Auditor & Inspector (SAI).

“Things were in place proactively, long before the audit,” explained OCC Director of Administration Brandy Wreath as he discussed the matter raised by Commissioner Anthony.

Among the audit’s findings were allegations the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) failed compliance testing in the expenditure of federal funds by creating a “pilot program” to skirt state competitive bidding requirements for certain vendors on statewide contract.

“I appreciate the Commissioner raising the issue because it gives me the chance to brag on the agency’s procurement practices, its policies, and the people here who exercised great caution and diligently safeguarded public funds in the midst of relaxed procurement rules,” Wreath said. “We would note that with the exception of one sole source contract, OMES moved OCC’s existing long-term vendors from competitively bid contracts to its Rolling Solicitation vendor list during their multi-year renewal phase. We have had these contracts for many years.”

When these contracts were initially awarded to the vendors engaged by OCC, these vendors provided OMES sufficient information during the once strenuous competitive bidding process to be awarded a statewide contract. OCC was not consulted nor otherwise involved in establishing the Rolling Request for Proposal (RFP) identified as non-compliant in the audit of federal expenditures.

OCC is a regulatory agency with three statewide elected officials. The importance of avoiding conflicts of interests and even the appearance of impropriety by disclosing any relationship with a vendor is paramount. Employees of OCC are required to annually disclose any relationship that may conflict with the regulatory or enforcement duties of their position.

“Transparency is too often a buzz word,” Wreath said. “Here at OCC, transparency is a value practiced daily by our finance department personnel. They know procurement procedures, they know accountability, and they know the value of regular financial audits.”

OCC may be the only state agency to voluntarily contract annually with the SAI to conduct ongoing performance audits to evaluate various agency programs and projects in the areas of

compliance, efficiency and effectiveness. The investment that the agency has made partnering with the taxpayer’s watchdog has paid huge dividends and has greatly minimized the risk of mishandling funds.

“For more than a decade, we’ve welcomed the state auditor to expose opportunities for improvement and help us be responsible stewards of taxpayer funds,” Wreath said. “We proudly reject political patronage, sweetheart deals and no-bid contracts. Though we’ll never be perfect, our aim is to earn the reputation as the model for how excellent government operates. Thanks to the public servants who work here, we are well on our way to achieving that goal.”

The opportunity to praise OCC’s ongoing effort to both earn and maintain public trust occurred during the annual recognition of Public Employee Appreciation Week.

Source: press release