A Houston-based food distributor has agreed to pay the state more than $36,000 after an investigation found the company overcharged state entities.
Sysco Foods signed a contract with the state of Oklahoma in October 2009 to provide food for its various entities.
Earlier this year, the state Central Purchasing Division investigated allegations Sysco was selling the same product at different prices to several state departments and facilities.
The differences in prices were first discovered through a data collection program created and operated by inmates at the Joseph Harp Correctional Center in Lexington.
The program initially was developed to monitor inmates during meal times.
By entering each inmate in a computer system as they received their food, corrections employees hoped to catch prisoners who were getting back in line and receiving a second meal. As part of the data collection, the inmates also gathered information on the quantities and pricing of food their facility receives from Sysco.
The program has been in place at Joseph Harp for nearly two years. The state Corrections Department has incorporated aspects of it in all of the state's medium- and maximum-security facilities, agency spokesman Jerry Massie said.
After reviewing the results of the Corrections Department investigation, Central Purchasing staff worked with Sysco to identify price discrepancies in several other state agencies.
In total, Sysco overcharged the state $36,589 in 2013, the investigation found. The company has agreed to reimburse each state entity. Just over half of those refunds will go to the Corrections Department, according to documents obtained through an open records request. Other agencies include the Department of Public Safety, county jails, hospitals and juvenile centers.
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