FRANKFORT — Kentucky paid more than $200,000 for a new Statewide 911 plan that doesn’t exist.
Auditor Mike Harmon released an audit Thursday of the Kentucky 911 Services Board. The board manages a fund that pays for 911 services throughout the state. The money comes from a fee attached to phone bills.
From 2014 to 2017, records show the board paid a contractor $233,149 to write a new statewide 911 plan. But auditors could find no evidence the company did the work. The state’s 911 plan was last updated in 2009 and has not been changed since. And the board did not keep proper financial records. State officials could only produce three invoices totaling $20,918.
“The lack of documentation calls into question the validity of the payments to the contractor,” auditors wrote in the report.
Plus, the money paid to the contractor came from a fund that state law said could only be spent on 911 call centers.
The contractor in question was not named in the audit. But Harmon’s office identified them as RCC Consultants, an engineering and consulting firm that was based in Woodbridge, New Jersey. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2015 and no longer exists. The company was bought by Black & Veatch.
In its response to the audit, the Kentucky 911 Services Board noted it had paid back the $233,149 to the fund that is restricted for 911 call centers. The board is looking for a new contractor to update the 911 plan and promised to do a better job this time, including keeping proper records of payments and making sure the consultant performs the work it agreed to do.
The audit also uncovered other problems. Phone companies charge customers a fee of 70 cents a month, which it then sends to the Kentucky 911 Services Board. The phone companies can keep 1.5 percent of the money as an administrative fee. But the Kentucky 911 Services Board did not keep proper records of these transactions, so auditors could not determine if the state collected what it was supposed to.
The audit covers fiscal years 2014 through 2017. Republican Gov. Matt Bevin took office in December 2015. Last year, he issued an executive order the restructured the board’s membership and placed it under the oversight of the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security.
Kentucky 911 Services Board chairman John Holiday said in a news release the audit explains why the state “sought increased oversight and accountability” of the board.
“Aggressive action during the past year taken by new Board staff … will prevent the broad range of deficiencies outlined in this audit to be replicated in the future,” Holiday said. “In fact, most findings and deficiencies were either corrected or remedied prior to the release of the (audit).”