AUSTIN — Serious conflict of interest and oversight problems plagued a massive telecommunications deal between AT&T and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, state auditors said Tuesday, fanning the flames of a scandal over another large contract.
Unlike that agreement, which has forced two high-ranking officials to resign, the contract for telephone services appears to have been awarded to AT&T after a competitive bidding process.
But at least one state employee who evaluated the bids had previously worked for AT&T, according to the audit, and staffers assigned to monitor the contract failed to verify AT&T’s performance claims while allowing the project’s cost to balloon from an estimated $1 million to $105 million.
“The Commission did not adequately monitor and enforce the terms of the contract or adequately review payments,” auditors wrote in a 59-page report. “In addition, the Commission did not adequately estimate the contract’s cost during planning or ensure that employees adequately completed conflict of interest forms.”