ST. PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota IT Services (MNIT) has come under fire again, this time for mismanaging millions of dollars in taxpayer funding.
In 2006, legislators created the Information and Telecommunications Account (ITA) as a way to compile funding for IT projects. State agencies with any remaining funding at the end of a biennium budget can roll the money into the account. The funding, which would otherwise expire, can be used at a later date for IT projects.
MNIT is the agency responsible for overseeing the account, however, an audit conducted by the Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor calls into question the management of the fund.
According to the audit, MNIT “did not provide adequate oversight” for ITA projects and failed to comply with state laws.
“Minnesota IT Services’ internal controls over the Information and Telecommunications Account were generally not adequate,” the audit concludes. “For the projects and legislative report we tested, Minnesota IT Services generally did not comply with significant legal requirements, including Minnesota statutes and its own policies and procedures.”
According to the audit, of the 209 MNIT-approved projects since 2007, 95 projects have not been completed. There has also been payments to MNIT employees for unapproved work, and money has been shuffled from one project to the next without official authorization or oversight.
As of March 2018, the balance in the ITA account was approximately $23 million.
The audit has also found MNIT submitted “inaccurate and incomplete” reports to the Legislature.
This is not the first time MNIT has come under scrutiny. Most recently, the agency has received criticism for the botched rollout of the Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS) that has costed taxpayers over $100 million.
The Minnesota Senate Republican Caucus has called the agency “disgraced.” Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake), Chair of the Senate State Government Committee, was quick to respond to the audit, saying the report is “another black mark” on MNIT.
“This report is another black mark on MN.IT, the same agency that botched the revamp of the Minnesota Licensing and Registration System and disgracefully wasted over one hundred million taxpayer dollars doing so,” Kiffmeyer said in a statement. “The Dayton administration has completely mismanaged this agency to the point of no return. The next governor should run—not walk—to sign the Republican bill that abolishes MN.IT and creates a clear line of accountability for future government technology infrastructure projects.”
State Rep. Jim Nash (R-Waconia), Vice Chair of the House State Government Finance Committee, has been a vocal critic of MNIT’s handling of MNLARS. This report, Nash says, confirms the agency needs to be “more accountable and transparent.”
“We now see that the agency is mismanaging valuable taxpayer dollars, and the state has nothing to show for projects over a decade old that were never completed,” Nash said in a statement. “I’m extremely disappointed in the findings, and call on MNIT Commissioner Clyborne and Governor Dayton to pledge to make agencies like MNIT more accountable and transparent to hardworking Minnesotans.”
MNIT says they take the report seriously, and will follow the report’s recommendations. Legislators intend on addressing the report during the 2019 legislative session.