HELENA — The two latest members of the Montana Public Company Fee informed a legislative committee Monday they’ve expended their very first 5 months on the task functioning to strengthen the procedure, general performance and lifestyle of the business that regulates monopoly utilities.
Fee Chair James Brown instructed the Legislative Audit Committee he has approved the resignation of PSC administrator Mandi Hinman. Brown explained Hinman directed another staff member to backdate a doc to reveal an expenditure that was billed to a condition procurement card as the agency was becoming audited. The staffer declined to indicator the document and instead told lawful employees.
The audit getting talked over Monday uncovered some commissioners were traveling with out documenting the state-relevant company objective for the excursion, at minimum a person upgraded from mentor to convenience course on a flight to Washington, D.C., and travel expenditures had been incurred devoid of getting a different commissioner indication off on the trip, as is essential less than PSC plan. The audit covered two fiscal several years ending in June 2020.
A large vast majority of the problems with commission journey had been not because the PSC failed to have adequate guidelines, Brown reported, but since commissioners have been not pursuing the plan.
Brown informed the committee that the commission chair has to signal off on travel by the other 4 commissioners, but that when Brad Johnson was chairman he did not have one more commissioner indicator off on his travel, as needed. Johnson was questioned to return his procurement card, Brown mentioned.
Johnson, who is now vice-chair of the fee, did not participate in the audit committee meeting.
Republican Sen. Jason Ellsworth explained to Brown that “on equally sides of the aisle we are really extremely let down,” with the previous actions of the PSC. The committee resolved to have the company come back in advance of them in Oct to report on its progress in addressing the problems elevated in the audit.
Democratic Sen. Mary McNally asked if any commissioners had available to reimburse the agency for the unapproved or upgraded vacation.
No, Brown said, he was informed the objective of the travel was acceptable. Nevertheless, he prompt the committee could compose a letter to Johnson and talk to him for an explanation.
Brown stated employees morale was low when he arrived at the PSC and he apologized to the staff for the lifestyle of the company in excess of the earlier a number of several years.
The PSC ideas to seek the services of an executive director to oversee all internal administrative matters in reaction to the audit, Brown explained.
An additional new commissioner, Republican Jennifer Fielder, mentioned she has been primary a planning work to address concerns lifted by the audit, working to solve an situation around new program that was not doing work, and interacting with personnel to comprehend their positions and challenges with the company.
A earlier investigation discovered previous Commissioner Roger Koopman was the goal of e mail leaks to a ideal-wing webcast and wrong police reports created by other commissioners or staff and that there was a pattern of bullying and harassment at the company.
The e-mail produced to Northwest Liberty Information in January 2020 included Koopman’s grievances about vacation spending and his perception that other PSC users did very little function, alongside with some individual e-mails.
Want to preserve up on news in Great Falls and northcentral Montana and get entry to special content? Click on right here to subscribe.
Have a information suggestion for the Tribune? Simply click below.