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Legislative Audit Commission

Minutes

March 3, 2004

The Legislative Audit Commission meeting was called to order by Representative Tim Wilkin, Chair, at 3:00 P.M. in Room 300 South, State Office Building.

Members present:

Representative Lyndon Carlson Senator David Hann
Representative Sondra Erickson Senator Sheila Kiscaden
Representative Jeff Johnson Senator Ann H. Rest
Representative Aaron Peterson Senator Yvonne Prettner Solon
Representative Connie Ruth
Representative Tim Wilkin

Members excused:

Representative Paul Thissen Senator Thomas Neuville
Senator Claire Robling Senator Jim Vickerman

Members absent:

Senator Richard Cohen

Other Legislators present:

Representative Phyllis Kahn Representative Philip Krinkie

Representative Wilkin recognized James Nobles, Legislative Auditor. Mr. Nobles indicated the purpose of the meeting was to review the program evaluation and financial audit reports on CriMNet. Mr. Nobles reviewed the reasons CriMNet was developed and some of the concerns and reasons the Program Evaluation Division was directed to conduct this study. He introduced Deborah Parker Junod, project manager, Valerie Bombach, evaluation specialist, and Cecile Ferkul, financial audit manager.

Ms. Junod reviewed the roles and responsibilities of the agencies involved in the development and management of CriMNet. Ms. Bombach reviewed issues related to access to information, accomplishments and problems in accessing information and reasons for slow progress in some areas. Ms. Junod reviewed recent corrective efforts taken by the agencies involved, as well as conclusions and recommendations for action by both the agencies and the Legislature. Ms. Ferkul reported that there were some problems with how funds were managed and reported.

In response to a question from Representative Kahn, Ms. Junod indicated that contracting for the design of CriMNet was subject to the approval of the Commissioner of Administration, but the system backbone was not as closely reviewed. Mr. Nobles added that the Commissioners of Administration, Finance and Public Safety were members of the CriMNet Policy Group, and as such, wore two different hats. He added that the Commissioner of Administration was very involved in the design of CriMNet. In response to a question from Representative Krinkie, Mr. Nobles indicated some of the problems stemmed from the fact that the legislation establishing CriMNet did not clearly specify who was responsible for the operation of CriMNet. The model created by the Legislature was one of cooperation, rather than having one person being accountable, but that an Executive Director would be selected to address this concern. It is not clear who or what the various groups and project directors are accountable to. In response to a question from Representative Wilkin, Ms. Junod indicated that there were designated project managers in charge of each of the projects. Mr. Nobles noted that it would be up to the Legislature to be diligent during the confirmation hearings. One obstacle is that the Courts are not subject to Executive Branch requirements, but the reports recommended they use those as guidelines.

In response to a question from Representative Krinkie, Ms. Bombach indicated the study did not look at the ties between the persons awarding the Integration Backbone contract and vendors selected. Mr. Nobles added that while his office was aware of allegations concerning possible conflict of interest issues, no one had come forward with any evidence that would warrant an investigation into that area.

Representative Wilkin recognized Daniel Storkamp, Director of Information and Technology, Department of Corrections. Mr. Storkamp reviewed the department’s response to the reports and indicated the Policy Group would be meeting the next week to address the issues and recommendations.

Representative Wilkin recognized Sue Dosal, State Court Administrator. Ms. Dosal reviewed the Court’s response to the reports. She noted the Courts were in the process of implementing MNCIS, a six year project. She noted that the Office of Technology had been actively involved in development of MNCIS. She indicated it was being tested in three counties and would be used statewide in 2006.

Representative Wilkin recognized Michael Campion, Superintendent of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension in the Department of Public Safety. He noted his remarks were not related to the Policy Group. He indicated that there was a new BCA director who would be responsible for CriMNet. Representative Larson indicated he had been a strong supporter of CriMNet, but was concerned that it still lacked a defined scope statement. Mr. Campion indicated this was very high on the Executive Director’s list of priorities. Representative Kahn expressed concern over the fact that because this was the first project of this sort in the country, it lacked integration with federal records and other organizations necessary for it to be successful. In response to a question from Representative Erickson, Mr. Campion indicated they were working on getting some federal grant funds.

Mr. Nobles indicated this had been a good program evaluation topic, that it needed to be done, and that the state needs to move forward on recommendations in the reports.

The meeting adjourned at 4:25 P.M.

_______________________________________
Representative Tim Wilkin, Chair

_______________________________________
Jean Barnhill, Recording Secretary

 

Mentioned

Office of the Legislative Auditor ♦ Room 140, 658 Cedar St., St. Paul, MN 55155