State auditor blames deterioration of Oklahoma government buildings on shortsighted legislative leaders

State Auditor Gary Jones criticizes the oversight of Oklahoma's state-owned buildings as highly decentralized, inconsistent and underfunded.
by Nolan Clay and Randy Ellis and Robby Trammell Published: April 7, 2012

State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones on Friday blamed the deterioration of Oklahoma's government buildings on shortsighted legislative leaders and said repairs will cost millions of dollars.

He called the way the state manages its buildings highly decentralized, inconsistent and underfunded.

Jones, a Republican, urged state leaders to come up with more creative methods to finance improvements besides bond issues.

“The shortsightedness of legislative leadership and lack of commitment to address capital asset needs has resulted in deteriorating buildings, government service disruptions and increased risk to the public health,” he wrote in a performance audit of the Oklahoma Department of Central Services.

The audit was made public Friday.

“The absence of planning and inadequate funding for what could have been routine maintenance expenditures has now escalated into millions,” he wrote. “If you don't change the oil in your car, what do you expect to happen?”

Talk of bond issue

The release of the audit comes at a time legislative leaders are discussing using a bond issue of up to $200 million to repair the crumbling nearly 100-year-old state Capitol and other state buildings.

The Oklahoma Department of Central Services manages only 17 of the approximately 30 buildings in the state Capitol complex in Oklahoma City. It also manages two office buildings in Tulsa. By law, it is supposed to construct, maintain and operate all buildings owned or occupied by the state, according to the audit.

The audit noted that the Department of Central Services has never even identified all of the state-owned real property. Despite multiple attempts since 1991 to inventory all state-owned real property, the list is incomplete.

The audit noted the state of Georgia saved $22 million through the sale of surplus property after an inventory.

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by Nolan Clay
Sr. Reporter
Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials,...
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by Randy Ellis
Capitol Bureau Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
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by Robby Trammell
Assistant Managing Editor
Robby Trammell is news director for The Oklahoman and During his 41-year career, he has received numerous reporting awards and civic honors. With The Oklahoman’s investigative team, he won a first-place spot news reporting award for...
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