Archive for Thursday, February 2, 2012

Auditors may revisit Kansas Biosciences report

February 2, 2012, 12:23 p.m. Updated February 2, 2012, 2:52 p.m.


— The firm hired to audit the Kansas Bioscience Authority following allegations of misconduct at the state-funded agency is considering issuing a supplemental report that would address questions about the thoroughness of its investigation, a firm official said.

Jim Snyder, who led the BKD Forensic and Valuation Services audit, told the Topeka Capital-Journal for a story published Wednesday that BKD may produce an additional report that would outline the content of some 52,000 emails found on a second laptop that was accessible to the Bioscience Authority's former president and CEO, Tom Thornton. But he said such a report wouldn't undermine the findings laid out in the initial report, which was released Jan. 23.

Snyder said it would be "absolutely false" to suggest that BKD's auditors ignored or downplayed the emails.

The audit looked at the KBA's operations and expenditures since it was established in 2004. The agency was created to invest some $580 million in emerging bioscience companies to support the growing sector in Kansas.

While it largely found that the KBA was investing state dollars properly, it criticized Thornton's destruction of files on his primary state-issued laptop. BKD's report mentions emails found on a second laptop Thornton had access to, but not the volume of emails associated with his work at the agency, the newspaper reported.

Sen. Susan Wagle, a Wichita Republican, said the audit should be reopened to look deeper at misconduct allegations. Wagle is chairwoman of the Senate Commerce Committee and has been critical of the KBA, its leadership and spending practices.

"They clearly represented to my committee the hard drive was wiped clean," she said. "It calls into question the total integrity of the BKD audit."

KBA Board Chairman Dan Watkins said lingering questions from the audit could be addressed in a follow-up report.

Gov. Sam Brownback, whose administration insisted on the audit in 2011 and played a role in shaping its scope, has withheld some $22 million in state funds earmarked for KBA investments due this fiscal year. The governor has asked for a moratorium on new KBA spending until legislators decide what steps to take with the agency.

Legislative leaders said they were satisfied with the initial reports and their findings.

"There's been more than enough discussion and presentations," said Senate President Steve Morris, a Hugoton Republican. "KBA ought to be allowed to proceed with their mission."


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