Official said Wyandotte County would overhaul this spending policy days before KBI search

·2 min read
Emily Curiel/ecuriel@kcstar.com

Just days before the Kansas Bureau of Investigation executed a search warrant at the City Hall of Wyandotte County’s Unified Government, the county’s top official sent a memo to all government staff members saying the county would “reevaluate the procurement card program,” according to a copy obtained by The Star.

Interim county administrator Cheryl Harrison-Lee emailed the note Aug. 1, two days before the KBI served the warrant, which targeted areas used by finance and IT departments.

Harrison-Lee’s decision to send the email was based on a presentation by the Robert Bobb Group LLC, which the Unified Government contracted to do an assessment of the finance department.

During that July 28 presentation at full commission meeting, one of the speakers Byron Marshall, said there was “significant use” of purchasing cards.

The presentation revealed that the Unified Government’s purchasing card policies and procedures are often not followed and have not been updated since 2007. But the assessment did not reveal or allege any illegal activities.

It recommended an in-depth, external audit of purchasing card usage.

And Harrison-Lee’s email seemed to indicate the Unified Government was starting to look into the program.

“With a total of 363 active P-Cards and an annual purchase average of $7 million, it is imperative that we reevaluate the procurement card program,” the email said.

The memo went on to give six different instructions, including that department heads would review all of the active cards in their unit and that employees with purchasing cards would need to follow the established protocol.

The KBI served the search warrant on Aug. 3. A copy of the search warrant said the KBI had opened a theft case against the Unified Government.

The warrant asked for records from Jan. 1, 2021, to the present, including bank statements, documents related to purchasing card accounts, expense vouchers, and emails from the Unified Government’s chief financial officer and the accounting fiscal officer.

It also asked for the Unified Government’s policies on government purchasing cards.

The warrant was signed by a Douglas County judge.

The KBI has previously said it opened its investigation June 23 after the Wyandotte County District Attorney’s office received information and determined an investigation was warranted.

No Unified Government employees have been placed on leave or suspended pending the outcome of KBI’s inquiry, said Unified Government spokeswoman Krystal McFeders.

There have been no arrests in connection with the investigation.