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April 17, 2003

State agency for deaf and hearing impaired violated purchasing rules, training under way

From: Tucson citizen, AZ - Apr 17, 2003

The Associated Press
April 17, 2003
PHOENIX - A state audit found that an agency that serves about 500,000 deaf and hearing impaired Arizonans had failed to follow rules for purchasing more than $1 million in goods and services.
The report by the Arizona auditor general found serious procedural flaws but no evidence of criminal wrongdoing at the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, which has a budget of $5.4 million a year. The audit covered a period from July 2000 to May 2002.
Commission staff members are now undergoing training with the state Procurement Office to make sure the mistakes aren't repeated, said Sheri Collins, the commission's executive director.
Collins attributed the problems to poor communication among staff members, a lack of understanding of procurement procedures and a limited number of vendors equipped to serve the specialized needs of the deaf community.
Gov. Janet Napolitano and House Republican leaders are satisfied the audit sufficiently informed the agency of procedural problems. Neither the governor nor House Majority Whip Randy Graf of Green Valley anticipated disciplinary action would be needed.
The agency, which provides services that include text telephone (TTY) distribution and repair and telecommunications relay services, is overseen by a 14-member commission.
Chairman Chris Schneck expressed confidence in Collins, the agency's first deaf director, and said the commission was not pursuing any action against her.
"She is extremely well-respected by the commission and the community," said Schneck.
But another commissioner said the agency is failing to serve the needs of the deaf community under Collins' direction.
"There's a severe shortage of sign language interpreters in Arizona, there are no services for deaf and blind citizens," said Jeremy Brunson, a graduate student and interpreter for the deaf.

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