Report: New Mexico lacks tools to track government spending
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico likely isn’t getting the best bang for its buck since it lacks the personnel and technology needed to adequately track nearly $2 billion in government spending.
Legislative analysts have found that some state agencies are unnecessarily buying high-end vehicles, laptops, drones and other goods and are forgoing bulk purchasing and additional negotiations that would otherwise result in discounts.
The findings were presented Thursday to a panel of state lawmakers.
Micaela Fischer, a program evaluation manager with the Legislative Finance Committee, told the lawmakers that the state purchasing division lacks tools to keep track of how much is being spent on goods and contracts.
“You can’t become a smarter consumer if you don’t pay attention to how you spend your money, and the same holds true for the state,” she said.
The analysts looked both at contracts and spending by state agencies through price agreements, which allow them to buy goods and services at pre-negotiated price ceilings. The review found that the agreements actually dissuade savings because agencies aren’t required to shop around for better prices.
The state Game and Fish Department actually went outside its price agreement during the 2018 fiscal year and was able to purchase 100,000 rounds of ammunition for 17 cents per round, saving nearly 11%. The attorney general’s office, Department of Public Safety and the Corrections Department all spent more.
In all, state agencies spent about $216 million using price agreements during the last fiscal year, Fischer said.
Another purchase highlighted in the report involves $466,000 spent by the New Mexico Homeland Security Department on a pair of drones and a command center from a third-party vendor.
The report states that some price agreements allow agencies to purchase niche products and services without the necessary expertise to judge if that product or service is what the agency really needs.
The report also points to instances in which some agencies are taking advantage of loose rules that have resulted in lucrative contracts with former staff and the hiring of high-priced consultants without seeking other options.
This marks just the latest examination of state spending. Over the last 11 years, staff members with the Legislative Finance Committee and the state auditor’s office have conducted four major reviews related to purchasing and procurement.
Among the latest recommendations, the legislative analysts say the state purchasing division should require its specialists to conduct analyses of all spending and take steps to limit the number of complicated or otherwise high-risk purchases made without adequate review.
The report also recommends that the division work with the state personnel office and the Department of Finance and Administration to develop guidance on acceptable temporary and contract staffing uses.