Agency investigation makes progress

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Josh Cockroft, R-Wanette, the chair of the House Special Investigation Committee, said in December he is pleased with how his investigation has unfolded to date and that the committee intends to follow up on several revelations learned during recent meetings.

Cockroft said testimony from witnesses has revealed there is insufficient oversight in the executive branch, inadequate internal controls in both the Department of Health and the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) and a lack of communication between agency leadership and the Governor’s Office. In addition, Cockroft said there is insufficient oversight from the Legislature over the agencies.

“Foremost, the investigation has revealed there are a lot of weaknesses in the way the Legislature interacts with and oversees the agencies that administer taxpayer dollars, and that there is equally insufficient oversight from the Office of Management and Enterprise Services over the agencies. There seems to be very few processes, if any, currently in place that would prevent the type of misconduct and mismanagement that has taken place at the Department of Health during the last six years.”

Cockroft said there appears to be an overall sense of complacency in the executive branch from the top down.

“It is completely unacceptable that an agency could just mismanage more than $30 million and illegally comingle federal and state dollars, and those leaders that should have known either didn’t or just ignored the warning signs,” he said. “We are going to continue investigating, and we are going to follow the leads where they go. But, we already have learned enough to guide us as we discuss serious reforms to the way we track and approve expenditures at the agency level.”

Cockroft said the committee has reached out to several current employees at the Department of Health to encourage them to produce evidence and cooperate with the investigation. In addition, the Committee has requested documentation from several prior witnesses, who have agreed to provide the documents by Friday.

Acting Department of Health Director Preston Doerflinger said during a press conference in December that he would allow current Department employees to cooperate freely with the investigation.

“I take Director Doerflinger at his word,” said Cockroft. “My hope is that current employees can shed some additional light on how the money was mismanaged within the next few weeks.”