Bureaucratic laziness costing taxpayers

Allegations of outright fraud certainly ought to outrage West Virginians. But what about mismanagement — let’s be honest and call it bureaucratic laziness — that probably cost taxpayers even more than corruption?

Years after legislators demanded the answer to a simple question, state government seems unable to say how many cars and trucks it owns. The bureaucrats cannot seem to agree on numbers that vary by hundreds, even thousands.

Some agencies admit they own expensive equipment, but have no idea where it is.

And state government continues to pay out enormous sums in payment for nothing.

State Auditor J.B. McCuskey’s office is investigating payment of nearly a million dollars for office space the state was not using.

For a few years, the Department of Health and Human Resources had its Fairmont offices in facilities at the Middletown Mall. But in 2015, the decision to relocate was made. In May of that year, a letter was sent to the property owner, canceling the DHHR lease on the mall office space.

Yet checks for $30,907 in monthly lease payments continued to go to the mall’s owner until this February. A total of $989,034 was paid out.

Gov. Jim Justice blames both the DHHR and the Department of Real Estate’s Real Estate Division. He points out the problem began during the administration of former Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

But why did it continue for so long? Why did no one involved wonder whether paying nearly a million dollars for nothing was a good idea?

Let us hope McCuskey can get to the bottom of it. Then he can move on to some new scandal in West Virginia state government.

There will be one.