Iowa’s GOP Governor Misused $21M In Pandemic Relief Funds, State Auditor Says
Iowa’s state auditor has determined that Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) misused $21 million in COVID-19 relief funds to implement a new software system for the state, according to local station WHO 13 News.
State Auditor Rob Sand said the governor directed $21 million of CARES Act funding to implement Workday, an HR/accounting computer system intended to replace the state’s old system. This is not an allowable use of the funds, according to Sand.
The pandemic relief funding was to be used only for certain costs, Sands said, which WHO 13 noted includes those that were:
• Necessary expenditures incurred due to the COVID-19 public health emergency
• Were not accounted for in the budget most recently approved as of March 27, 2020 (the date of enactment of the CARES Act) for the State or government; and
• Were incurred during the period that begins on March 1, 2020, and ends on December 30, 2020.
Reynold’s decision to use the money for Workday had nothing to do with the pandemic, Sands said, noting that the contract was signed last year prior to the emergence of the coronavirus.
Sands also noted that “Reynolds’ former chief of staff, Jake Ketzner, is a lobbyist for Workday,” the news outlet reported, though he also “said there is ‘no question’ that the state’s legacy software system needed to be replaced, and that there are only a handful of systems available.”
To justify the spending, Sand said the governor’s office stated, “with Workday, the State of Iowa will be able to act quickly to assist essential government employees, giving them flexibility in a number of ways, such as requesting COVID-related hardship help, easier ways to request Family and Medical Leave Act leave types, and automate processes for donating leave, and borrowing leave.”
Refuting this justification, Sand said, “The statement regarding how Workday affects state employees, a portion of whom are themselves working on the public health emergency, is essentially a restatement of the purpose of Workday in general, which did not change with the emergence of COVID-19.”