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Politics & Government

State Audit Expanded To Review Tomalis

The state’s top fiscal watchdog says an ongoing audit of the state Department of Education will now also look into certain employees, including Ron Tomalis, the former secretary and special advisor to the governor who resigned under a cloud of criticism this past August.

Democratic Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said the in-progress audit will review special advisors, contractors and short-term employees.

“It’s not just about Mr. Tomalis,” DePasquale said. “It’s an issue broadly about are people being hired and they don’t have an actual role to play?”

Tomalis resigned from the post after a newspaper found little evidence he was working. Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration defended Tomalis’ work, but campaign allies of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf have seized on the issue, saying the lack of clear accomplishments indicates departmental “disarray.”

“If there is a pattern of people being put at the Department of Education, and they’re not providing value to the students and the families and the taxpayers of this state, that is something that needs to be scrutinized,” said DePasquale.

He added that it is not unprecedented to expand an audit to look at employee circumstances.

“That is something that has been done before,” DePasquale said. “And certainly there’ve been times where we’ve discovered -- certainly in our school district audits -- that somebody has been working without providing value to the taxpayers.”

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette based its own investigation into Tomalis on schedule documents, phone logs and interviews with his colleagues.

DePasquale said his agency’s audit would concentrate on work assignments and accomplishments. “If there was a contract, like for an annuitant, you can ask for the terms of that contract,” DePasquale said.

The broadened audit will look back as far as July 2010, six months before Corbett took office. It’s expected to be finished next year – after the gubernatorial election.