Utah CIO bent rules in hiring, auditors say

Utah CIO bent rules in hiring, auditors say

Utah CIO Phillip Windley and others in the Information Technology Services Office violated and manipulated the state's personnel and contracting rules to hire former employees of Excite At Home, a bankrupt company where Windley had worked, state auditors said.

'We think what happened here is probably some bad management,' legislative auditor general Wayne Welsh said. Abuse of personnel rules is not a criminal matter, he said.

'The CIO and some other officials exhibited favoritism to employees of Excite At Home'and they circumvented procedures to get those employees on board,' Welsh said.

The auditors' investigation of the matter appeared in a report issued Monday on hiring practices of the CIO and ITS. 'While individual cases may not raise strong concerns, taken together we believe these cases display a pattern which does yield strong concerns of favoritism,' the report said. The auditors questioned practices used to hire nine state employees, according to the report.

Windley and other Utah state officials, including officials in the governor's office, were not available for comment. In a letter responding to the audit, Windley and other officials appointed by Gov. Mike Leavitt emphasized that the qualifications and competence of the employees discussed in the report had not been disputed. They noted that the report pointed out areas for improvement in hiring practices.

'I would say this is unusual,' Welsh said of the incident. 'We haven't come across many cases like this.' The resolution of the matter is up to Leavitt, who appointed Windley and the other officials and can remove them, Welsh said.

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