At a time when the state has a budget surplus and the economy is strong, the State Office of Management and Enterprise Services, is asking the legislature for an emergency $16 million or they could have to furlough employees.
OMES is one of the state agencies that should have, but didn’t, catch mismanagement at the State Department of Health over six years that led to hundreds of layoffs, and the agency hiding $30 million from the legislature.
Now, OMES has financial problems of its own.
The agency provides financial, property, purchasing, human resources and IT services to all state agencies, and helps the governor develop a state budget.
However, OMES says it’s $16 million in the hole and needs cash before April 1.
“I think we’re going to have an unfortunate ability to not respond to cyber incidents, which continue to be at a very alarming rate. And I seriously know that we will be impacting ongoing projects and agencies as well as impacting citizen services,” said Bo Reese of OMES.
OMES says in the past six months it has not filled around 50 positions to save money.
“Our costs are continuing to increase year after year with some of our largest vendors. Those costs will continue to increase as IT costs will continue to always increase,” said Reese.
Senator Roger Thompson (R) of Okemah asked, “Is $16 million that drop-dead number or is it $4 million, $3 million, $7 million. What is it?”
“There is $7 million that we owe to vendors right now that is over 60 days. So, from my perspective that would be our drop-dead figure for April,” responded Brandy Manek with OMES.
OMES says without the funds the agency would likely have to furlough employees for six days.
Lawmakers say they want some assurance that this won’t happen again.
“I just believe that we need to have a plan other than just saying we got $16 million we need, give it to us and then what happens after that?” Representative Charles Ortega (R) of Altus asked.
OMES says it is looking at ways to make the agency more efficient.
Lawmakers should decide in the next few weeks whether to give the agency the money.