Dallas County reviews contract procedures

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by BYRON HARRIS

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WFAA

Posted on August 16, 2011 at 6:00 PM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 16 at 6:48 PM

NEWS 8 INVESTIGATES

DALLAS — A News 8 investigation of Dallas County's contract for emergency communications gear dominated Tuesday's meeting at Commissioners' Court.

The county's contract with Wai-Wise for the equipment sparked concern. Commissioners learned that the county paid Wai-Wize nearly one-third more than the next bidder.

Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Zachary Thompson told Commissioners the county was in a hurry to get the gear when the contract was signed.

"What I did not want to have is to come before this Commissioners' Court in an emergency and explain why we could not communicate during an emergency," Thompson said.

A News 8 investigation found that once the gear was obtained, the county spent more than $6,000 a month to have it maintained — often without clear invoices indicating how much hourly work was involved.

"I think we've got a hole that needs to be patched," said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. He said the county needs to map out exactly what its contract procedures are and how they should be followed.

Of particular importance, Jenkins said, are personal services contracts for security political consultants. He said the county has paid tens of thousands of tax dollars to people with special expertise without clear definition of what it was supposed to get.

Going forward, Commissioners want that to change.

E-mail bharris@wfaa.com

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