State has $1 million in unused computers

The new equipment was purchased to help with vehicle licensing.
Friday, January 14, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 7:00 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — State Auditor Claire McCaskill said Thursday that $1 million worth of state-owned computers and electronic equipment has sat unused in boxes for about a year.

McCaskill said she received a tip the new equipment is stored in its original boxes in a Jefferson City warehouse. She found hundreds of computers, printers, scanners and other electronic equipment purchased by the Department of Revenue in the warehouse.

“Acquiring equipment when it is not immediately needed is clearly a waste of public funds,” McCaskill said.

A Revenue Department spokeswoman referred questions to the governor’s office, where spokesman Spence Jackson said new Gov. Matt Blunt’s administration was shocked to learn of the expenditures.

Jackson said new Revenue Director Trish Vincent uncovered the problem a few weeks ago.

The Revenue Department has apparently spent more than $17 million since 1995 on a project to process vehicle licensing, titling and registrations in county offices, rather than sending paperwork to Jefferson City, he said. That dollar figure includes computers, equipment, warranties and payments to the contractor that designed the system.

Jackson said the Revenue Department is trying to get the computer project running. Once in place, it should make the vehicle licensing and titling process faster and cheaper.

McCaskill, a Democrat who lost the governor’s race to Blunt in November, said it’s important, especially with computers, that they be put to use before they become obsolete.

She recommended the department make the equipment available for purchase by any agency in state government that needs it. She also criticized the department for buying equipment it didn’t need right away.

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