See follow-up: Auditor Gary Jones Responds.
Ada - District Attorney Paul Smith (Pontotoc County), says his investigation estimates that the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) is unable to identify where nearly a quarter of a billion dollars has gone. Those funds were allocated for the counties of the state and held by ODOT.
Smith said he consulted with 8 counties in and around his district...
"They were concerned that certain monies that are supposed to be safeguarded and held by the ODOT were showing negative balances," Smith said.
"This may be totally innocent... we don't know, there may be a very good explanation," Smith said. "But I felt it incumbent on my office as the district attorney to request the audit."
This latest matter is the 4th instance in less than a year, of a state agency having a serious problem accounting for missing funds. But this is by far the largest amount.
“Dear Auditor and Inspector Jones:
I write today to call on the talent of the Oklahoma State Auditors & Inspector’s Office to resolve a referral that I have received from all three of my County Boards of County Commissioners who each voted unanimously to refer the matter to the undersigned to take appropriate action to determine the cause and effect of certain diverted monies from the County Improvements for Roads and Bridges Program, also known as CIRB funds.
This matter was brought to the attention of the BOCC’s by the oversight of the Circuit Engineering District 4 (CED4) which assists counties with their many road projects in numerous ways. You will find attached a wealth of materials generated by the CED4 General Manager calling the commissioner’s attention to these depleted funds and related concerns.
The CIRB funds presently have a negative fund balance contrary to statutes which require ODOT to safeguard and hold these funds for the CIRB allocation plans. The thrust of the complaint is well outlined in the CED4 GM’s letter to the Commissioners of each affected counties which is attached hereto.”
- Paul Smith
DA, 22nd District
The massive discrepancy dwarfs the total appropriated budget of ODOT. The transportation department budget is $165.85 million for fiscal year 2019.
There is not yet any word from the state Office of Management & Enterprise Services(OMES). That department also missed multiple years of mismanagement and fraud in the state Health Department and other scandals.
The governor's office is also silent on the matter. ODOT released a statement, committing to bring full transparency to the matter, but they offered no clues on this massive disappearance of important funds for county road repairs & improvements. State Auditor Gary Jones has not issued a statement to the press.
News outlets in the Ada area were the first to report this matter.
Mr. Tim Gatz,
Asst. Director Administration
200 N.E. 21st Street
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105
Mr. Shannon J. Sheffert, P.E.,
Local Government Division Engineer
Local Govt Division - ( ODOT Division Map )