SALEM — State officials could have saved up to $1.6 billion over a two-year period by being smarter shoppers, according to a state audit released Wednesday.

But, auditors said, old technology and outdated practices largely prevent the state from digging into whether it is spending each dollar of taxpayer money wisely.

Auditors looked at all information technology purchases in 2016 and 2017 by 10 state agencies whose buying is subject to oversight from the Department of Administrative Services.

They found the state bought 1,300 24-inch Dell monitors for prices ranging from $176.40 to $241.15 and could have saved over $16,500 by always paying the lowest price.

In another example, the state paid 131 different prices for the same surge protector, ranging from $65.90 to $173.98.

While focusing on technology, the auditors used their findings and other research to conclude that Oregon could have trimmed up to 20 percent of $8 billion in state government purchases in the 2015-17 budget.

The Department of Administrative Services has price agreements with vendors to set prices for goods bought by the state. The state encourages agencies to negotiate for lower prices.

But auditors found that state buyers use multiple systems to track spending and don’t follow consistent buying practices.

Some state agencies monitor spending in Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. Only two state agencies regularly analyze individual purchases, auditors found.

“Without the ability to analyze detailed purchase data for all procurements, Oregon is unable to identify opportunities for potentially millions of dollars in cost savings,” auditors wrote.

Oregon could benefit from analyzing information about what it spends money on, auditors found.

Such an analysis can result in big savings. Auditors said that officials in Georgia reported saving $61 million after doing an analysis of 38 contracts.

Auditors recommended that the Department of Administrative Services buy a procurement system that would provide more details about specific purchases so the state can spot ways to save money.

The Oregon Capital Bureau is a collaboration of EO Media Group, Pamplin Media Group and Salem Reporter.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.