in Houston, Texas
Texas Rangers scrutinize state agreement with North Texas Council of Governments
Wednesday, Jun 22, 2011, 04:35PM CST
By Kevin Lee
cash

Texas Rangers continue to investigate the activities of a fired state official who oversaw disbursement of federal homeland security grants as the head of the State Administrative Agency.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported on Tuesday that Janice Bruno gave the Rangers a “variety of descriptions” when asked to explain the contract she developed on behalf of the agency with the North Texas Council of Governments “to act as a conduit to spend millions of taxpayer dollars.” Bruno would recommend contractors, and the council would receive a 4 percent “administrative fee.”

One of those companies Bruno recommended was CyberDefenses, an information technology company whose founder served with Bruno in the National Guard.

The state auditor has found that the agency channeled $420,000 to consultants while bypassing required bidding procedures.

The Houston Chronicle reported earlier this month that “the state has replaced the entire SAA leadership team and suspended all contractors working at the SAA and any related contractor invoice payments,” since the allegations of wrongdoing surfaced.

Bruno has not been charged with a crime, according to the Star-Telegram.
 
***
Contact Kevin Lee at 713-228-3733 or kevin@texaswatchdog.org.

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Photo of money by flickr user athrasher, used via a Creative Commons license.
State auditor questions $420K in contracts that lacked required bidding; read the auditor’s report here
Thursday, Jun 09, 2011, 10:33AM CST
By Mark Lisheron
money

A discredited State Administrative Agency funneled $420,000 or more in contracts to consultants without the required bidding, according to a state audit obtained by the the Houston Chronicle.

The state is in the process of firing Janice Bruno, the head of the agency, who has been under suspension since criminal misconduct allegations were brought to the State Auditor in December, according to the Chronicle story today.

Bruno has not as yet been charged criminally in connection with the investigation.

The audit says managers for the agency responsible for disbursing millions of dollars in federal grants used the Texas Department of Information Resources to hire specific people they had chosen as consultants.

The agency paid out $420,336, with $151,265 of it from the federal Department of Homeland Security, during the 2010 fiscal year. While the audit describes widespread spending and compliance problems at the agency, the scope of the audit gives no indication how long the problems have gone on.
 
***
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

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Photo of money by flickr user athrasher, used via a Creative Commons license.
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