County agrees: No more sales of old wares

Due to audit results, employees can't buy surplus computers

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Clark County will no longer sell surplus computers — a result of an investigation into employees posting surplus computer equipment on Craigslist and buying it themselves or selling it to other county employees.

County Administrator Mark McCauley said Thursday no employees were disciplined over the practice, although using Craigslist violated the county’s policy of auctioning old equipment on sites such as eBay.

Instead, the decision was made to bar employees from buying surplus equipment and to simply dispose of old computers rather than try to make a small profit.

The practice came to light during a routine county audit, the findings of which were released Tuesday by Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey.

One finding from the audit, which reviewed how county employees handle cash and track inventory, was “staff uses insider information to potentially benefit on assets sold.”

Kimsey said Tuesday his office turned the matter over to the human resources department.

McCauley said Thursday that HR officials conducted a series of interviews with employees and concluded “the employees were doing nothing nefarious.”

He said Information Services employees had a network of people who like buying old computers and they would use social media to advertise when the county was selling surplus property, then post it on Craigslist.

Tom Nosack, internal performance auditor and senior management analyst, said Tuesday about 30 Dell desktop computers — monitors not included — and laptops had been declared surplus and sold on Craigslist.

The computers had obsolete hardware and no operating systems. The laptops were listed for $100 and desktops for between $40 and $50, Nosack said, which were considered fair prices given their condition.

McCauley said Thursday that 22 county employees were identified who bought computers, monitors or computer supplies.

While the old policy allowed employees to buy surplus items and there was no evidence they did anything unethical, such as turning around and selling the equipment for a profit, the practice “created the appearance of impropriety,” he said. “And you never want that.”

In an average year, the county will surplus about 500 computers, McCauley said. The county has about 2,500 computers; they are replaced on a five-year cycle.

Instead of having employees spend time preparing the computers to be sold, the county will use Technology Conservation Group in Portland to dispose of computers.

The company will charge the county to destroy hard drives and obsolete equipment, but the county will also receive credit for certain surplus items, McCauley said. If the county doesn’t break even or make a small profit, it should be only a minor expense.