Often in Jefferson City we come across issues that transcend party lines. In fact, most of the everyday business that is conducted here is done so with mutual agreement and respect. The work of my Interim Committee on Government Bidding and Contracting is no different. I made it very clear from the onset of our investigations into the procurement process in Missouri that I was concerned with process, not politics. Unfortunately, the Department of Revenue (DOR) recently obstructed our committee’s work in what I can only assume is partisan gamesmanship.
To summarize, we had called for a hearing to discuss the process which the Department utilizes for license fee office contracting. These fee offices have been a point of contention for both republicans and democrats. Our aim is to make the process more objective and less likely to be swayed by improper motives. The Department refused to send any witnesses to this first hearing.
After a lengthy discussion with the Department, assurances from my office, and a public request from the ranking Democrat in my committee, Representative Kelly, that they appear, they relented, or so we thought.
This past Tuesday we held our hearing. DOR sent one witness, their Legislative Director. This individual could not speak in an expert manner on the in depth topic of procurement. Again and again, questions were answered with "I don’t know. I’ll get back to you." DOR staff need only to walk across the street to appear at hearings. Legislators must drive hundreds of miles in many cases.
This was absolutely unacceptable. In response, I drafted a letter notifying DOR of our intent to subpoena each staff person responsible for the License Bureau within DOR. With this final notice, DOR has agreed to send individuals who can actually respond to the committee’s inquiries.
I bring this up for only one reason. Politics frustrates people. It also frustrates elected officials. Though we must sometimes come face to face with it when conducting seemingly innocuous work. Perhaps DOR will comply with our requests. It is my hope that we can move forward and improve the process of procurement. Until the gamesmanship stops, however, I can assure you that I will utilize every legal method, including the power to subpoena, to hold your state government accountable for its actions.