Note: This article has been clarified to reflect that the departure of former Director Elisha Figueroa in May of 2017 was not related to the audit, which had not yet begun; she left for a private-sector job, in which she still works.
The Idaho Office of Drug Policy hired a vendor to conduct a media campaign from 2015 to 2017 for $383,987 without competitive bidding, in violation of state purchasing policies, according to a newly issued state audit. After the problem was identified — and the office had a new director — the office went through the required process, issued a request for proposals, and in December of 2018 issued a new contract to the same vendor, Neighborhood All-Stars, a Boise boutique design firm that this time beat out four other competing firms and again won the contract.
The director has now changed again, and new Director Melinda Smyser, appointed to the post by Gov. Brad Little when he took office in January, has instituted new training and oversight requirements in the office for contracts, grants and financial reporting.
“You can’t have control on things that you weren’t involved in earlier, but you look at your path going forward and make sure that all processes and laws are followed going forward,” Smyser told the Idaho Press on Tuesday. You can read my full story here at idahopress.com, or pick up today’s Idaho Press.