A state audit has found the Department of Natural Resources overpaid for equipment by at least $57,000 over two and a half years at its Tumwater maintenance shop.
The department fired three employees more than a year ago after an internal investigation, including a purchasing specialist who made questionable purchases from a personal friend and a relative.
The top supervisor at the shop and the fleet manager also lost their jobs. The fleet manager supervises all nine shops around the state that maintain and repair DNR vehicles, like cars and wildfire-fighting trucks, with a supplies budget of nearly $1.7 million.
Eight more employees were reprimanded. Another worker retired before the review finished.
The internal investigation found employees did not follow state law or department policy, according to the report released Monday by State Auditor Brian Sonntag’s office. In some cases, purchases were made without getting required price quotes from competitors.
The shop bought thousands of items, including engines, from a vendor without a state contract, at prices that the department found in some instances were 50 percent to 300 percent higher than similar goods and services from other sellers. The vendor had loaned an off-road vehicle to the purchaser, his friend, according to the audit.