Saturday, June 30, 2001

Ex-state agent investigated

Human services director may face charges

By Liz Sidoti
The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — A former state human services director steered millions of dollars in state contracts to a consulting company against the recommendation of his staff and a committee that reviewed contracts, the state's inspector general said Friday.

        Accenture, a Chicago-based company formerly known as Andersen Consulting, later hired the former director, Arnold Tompkins.

        The state's top government watchdog, Thomas Charles, said in a statement that he recommends criminal charges be pursued against Mr. Tompkins, who held the Cabinet post from 1993 to 1998, and Donna Givens, a consultant who was “instrumental” in facilitating the unbid contracts.

        As inspector general, Mr. Charles investigates alleged wrongdoing in state agencies. He said he forwarded a 92-page report to Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien to determine whether charges will be filed.

        Mr. Tompkins denies wrongdoing, his lawyer said.

        Accenture, in a statement, defended its operations and the work of Ms. Givens.

        Mr. Charles began the investigation in November after his office received an anonymous letter alleging only that a former state human services director steered a large welfare-reform contract to a company. Mr. Charles' office reviewed the Ohio Department of Job and Family Service's contracts and procedures for awarding contracts.

        The report says the letter raised questions about whether Mr. Tompkins made certain contract decisions as welfare director because he wanted to get a job with Accenture after leaving state government, according to a source familiar with the report's contents. The source spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.

        Mr. Charles said in the statement that Ms. Givens, who currently is an Accenture employee but at the time had been under contract with both the state and the company, developed for the company a strategy memo that outlined ways to get Mr. Tompkins to further promote the company's business interests.

        Mr. Tompkins hired Accenture in 1996 to help Ohio implement welfare reform and, later, to develop Ohio Works, an Internet job-matching program that has been criticized by businesses and job-seekers as inefficient.

        Mr. Tompkins quit his Cabinet post Oct. 9, 1998. He and Jacqueline Romer-Sensky, a former top aide to former Gov. George Voinovich, formed a private consulting firm, Tompkins & Sensky, Ltd., in November 1998.

        Their firm entered into consulting contracts with Accenture and American Management Systems, both of which were doing business with the Department of Human Services.

        Mr. Tompkins and Ms. Romer-Sensky ended their business relationship in March 1999 when Ms. Romer-Sensky became director of the human services department. The agency became the Department of Job and Family Services last July and maintained major contracts with both Accenture and AMS.

        While the report criticized Ms. Romer-Sensky's management practices, it said that no actions taken “by Romer-Sensky rise to the level of wrongdoing,” the source quoted the report as saying.

        She resigned in March amid revelations that the department illegally withheld child support payments from former welfare recipients.

        The report “will be damning to all parties involved and will not leave too many stones unturned,” Larry James, an attorney representing Mr. Tompkins, said Thursday, noting that he had not seen the report.

        Mr. James said that possible charges could include alleged violations of the law that bars employees from doing business with state executive branch agencies for one year after leaving state government, conflict of interest and unlawful interest in a state contract.

        Accenture said in a statement that it complied with state laws and its contracts. It also said Ms. Givens “never violated any ethical or contractual obligations to the state of Ohio. The state was aware of her work for Accenture and even encouraged it.”


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