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Governor’s Energy Office Explains Where $9M Went

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Director TJ Deora talks with CBS4's Shaun Boyd (credit: CBS)

Director TJ Deora talks with CBS4’s Shaun Boyd (credit: CBS)

DENVER (CBS4) – A Colorado state agency has explained to CBS4 where $9 million was spent after a state lawmaker called for an audit.

When CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd first began looking into the story, nobody at the Governor’s Energy Office could say exactly what that money had been spent on. Now it’s detailed in a document prepared by the office.

The document has every transaction made over the last 3 years, but while it answers some questions, it raises others.

“There was a concern about $9 million missing and I think it’s important that taxpayers have a right to know,” Governor’s Energy Office Director TJ Deora said.

The concern was raised by Rep. Cindy Acree, R-District 40, who called for an audit of the agency after she says state financial records couldn’t explain $9 million in expenses. Deora says he now can.

Deora says Acree’s information came from the state’s antiquated computer accounting system, which doesn’t detail every transaction.

“We had staff stay after hours and come in on their day off on Veterans Day to make sure that we could have the information in way that was much easier for folks outside system to understand,” Deora said.

Still there are questions. There was a half million in travel, for example, and hundreds of thousands in advertising.

The answers rest in part with the federal stimulus. The agency received $120 million and its budget grew by 308 percent in 3 years — and it was use it or lose it. Now it’s a different budget, different director, and different philosophy.

“It’s just a reminder that it’s important for us to be able to continue to strive for improvement, not only in our systems and our operations, but in our transparency,” Deora said.

CBS4 was not able to reach Acree for comment. In addition to her audit request, the energy office has put in its own request. If approved, an audit of the energy office will take 9 months to a year to complete.

Gov. John Hickenlooper has requested $8.5 million in his budget next year to upgrade the state’s financial reporting system.

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