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Auditor General Says MI’s COVID Response “Appropriate” But Not Perfect

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A report to the Legislature from the Michigan Auditor General says there should have been more controls over how millions of dollars in COVID-19 response funds were spent. But the same report also says the spending overall has been “appropriate.”

The report focused largely on government credit cards that were shared between state employees to buy emergency supplies. That made it harder to track who was buying what, and there was one case of purchased personal protective equipment that was never delivered.

The Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget, the report says, “did not have comprehensive emergency procurement policies and procedures in place prior to the COVID-19 emergency, resulting in increased risks for fraud, waste, and loss of funds.”

DTMB agreed only partially with the finding.

Caleb Buhs with the state budget office says it was a crisis situation as Michigan competed for emergency equipment, and vendors were able to demand payment in advance.

“We did have to provide credit cards and make them available to our staff to be able to make these purchases at all hours of the day and I mean that,” he said. “There were purchases made at 3 am because some PPE became available and we had to act quickly.”

But, he said, the state’s procedures have been updated.

“There’s always lessons learned from emergencies because each one is unique,” he said. “This one may be more unique than any emergency we’ve ever faced with a pandemic of this nature.

”This is the third monthly report to the Legislature on how COVID funds are being used.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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