Governor Reynolds Misused Pandemic Relief Money
The Cedar Rapids Gazette reports that the state auditor and federal inspectors have found that Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds' decision to use $20 million of coronavirus relief money on a new computer system was "not allowable". Her actions could result in the money being taken away from the state of Iowa if it isn't shifted properly by the end of the year.
In July, the Gazette reported that Reynolds transferred $91 million of Iowa's $1.25 billion from the federal CARES Act to the Office of the Chief Information Officer for technology upgrades. Included in that was $20.1 million to replace the state of Iowa's budget, accounting, and human resources computer system. Reynold's spokesperson told the Gazette that the new system would play an integral role in the state's response to the pandemic. However, an Inspector General with the U.S. Department of Treasury found that the upgrades were not necessary to address a public health emergency.
The Gazette reports that CARES Act funds were supposed to be used to cover "costs that are necessary expenditures incurred due to the COVID-19 public health emergency." State Auditor Rob Sand said that if the governor doesn't redeploy the dollars for a lawful use, they will have to be repaid to the federal government. That would mean Iowa would lose out on $21 million.
The new computer system by a company called Workday was not scheduled to be implemented until July of 2021 and July of 2022.