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Lawmakers Go over Coverage Violations by Utility Regulators | Montana Information

By AMY BETH HANSON, Affiliated Push

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The two most recent associates of the Montana Public Provider Commission told a legislative committee Monday they’ve expended their first 5 months on the work doing the job to enhance the operation, efficiency and society of the workplace that regulates monopoly utilities.

Fee Chair James Brown instructed the Legislative Audit Committee he has acknowledged the resignation of PSC administrator Mandi Hinman. Brown explained Hinman directed one more team member to backdate a document to reveal an cost that was billed to a state procurement card as the agency was getting audited. The staffer declined to sign the doc and as a substitute told lawful workers.

The audit being discussed Monday discovered some commissioners were being touring devoid of documenting the condition-connected enterprise reason for the vacation, at the very least a person upgraded from mentor to comfort course on a flight to Washington, D.C., and travel expenditures ended up incurred with no obtaining a different commissioner sign off on the trip, as is expected below PSC coverage. The audit coated two fiscal years ending in June 2020.

A large vast majority of the complications with commission travel were not due to the fact the PSC failed to have enough procedures, Brown claimed, but for the reason that commissioners have been not following the plan.

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Brown explained to the committee that the commission chair has to indication off on travel by the other 4 commissioners, but that when Brad Johnson was chairman he did not have yet another commissioner indicator off on his travel, as demanded. Johnson was questioned to return his procurement card, Brown explained.

Johnson, who is now vice chair of the commission, did not take part in the audit committee assembly.

Republican Sen. Jason Ellsworth instructed Brown that “on equally sides of the aisle we’re extremely extremely dissatisfied,” with the past actions of the PSC. The committee determined to have the company arrive back ahead of them in October to report on its development in addressing the difficulties lifted in the audit.

Democratic Sen. Mary McNally questioned if any commissioners experienced made available to reimburse the company for the unapproved or upgraded travel.

No, Brown stated, he was informed the goal of the journey was proper. Nonetheless, he advised the committee could produce a letter to Johnson and inquire him for an clarification.

Brown stated team morale was minimal when he arrived at the PSC and he apologized to the workers for the culture of the agency about the past various many years.

The PSC options to hire an government director to oversee all inner administrative issues in reaction to the audit, Brown claimed.

Yet another new commissioner, Republican Jennifer Fielder, mentioned she has been major a planning work to deal with concerns elevated by the audit, functioning to take care of an challenge above new software package that was not functioning, and interacting with staff to recognize their positions and issues with the company.

A former investigation identified former Commissioner Roger Koopman was the focus on of e-mail leaks to a ideal-wing webcast and phony police stories manufactured by other commissioners or employees and that there was a pattern of bullying and harassment at the agency.

The emails introduced to Northwest Liberty Information in January 2020 included Koopman’s grievances about journey shelling out and his notion that other PSC members did small get the job done, alongside with some individual emails.

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