Once more, our intrepid state auditor Doug Hoffer has shone a light where some would probably prefer that he had not, exposing potentially costly mismanagement of a signature administration initiative.
That the state has, nonetheless, come away from the table in pretty good shape is due to the watchful eye of the auditor’s team.
Seven Days is reporting that, in reviewing payments made against the contract of economist Jonathan Gruber, Governor Shumlin’s go-to guy for modelling his now abandoned Single Payor Healthcare initiative, the Auditor’s Office found some serious irregularities:
In a five-page report released Monday, Hoffer stopped short of accusing the economist, Jonathan Gruber, of fraud, citing a lack of documentation pertaining to his alleged “inconsistencies and questionable billing practices.” But the state auditor was unsparing in his criticism of the administration’s oversight of the contract, which called for an economic analysis of Shumlin’s since-abandoned single-payer health care proposal.
Coming on the heels of what many feel was a shell-game perpetrated on voters by the Governor when he chose to renounce single-payer only after gaining re-election, this latest revelation will do him no political good.
The recently appointed Secretary of Administration Justin Johnson seems to agree with the Auditor that Gruber’s billing justifications are inadequate, but stops short of accepting, on behalf of his office, blame for any error.
“The bottom line to me is did we get the work that we asked for?” Johnson said. “We did get what we were buying here.”
At the request of Sen. Joe Benning (R-Caledonia) and Rep. Oliver Olsen (I-South Londonderry), the Auditors Office undertook to examine invoicing against Mr. Gruber’s $400,000. contract in December and found significant irregularities in billing hours.
The evidence suggests that Dr. Gruber overstated the hours worked by the RA and that the Agency of Administration ignored the obvious signs that something was amiss.”
In contrast to Peter Shumlin’s political fortunes, which have headed rapidly downhill since the last election, Doug Hoffer is shaping into someone who could hold real potential for voters across the political spectrum who are longing for a return of integrity, independence and accountability to the halls of the Pavillion.
But there’s still a lot of work for him to do in the Auditor’s chair, which I remember him saying was the only one he ever wished to occupy, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves.