Use of stimulus funds for work outside US has governor miffed



Gov. Ted Strickland said he is disappointed that a state-contracted company used stimulus funds to pay workers at an overseas call center, and he said his administration will work to ensure future contracts don’t go to firms that are outsourcing jobs.

The governor made the comments Thursday in response to a Columbus television station’s news report that a Texas company hired by the state to administer an appliance-rebate program used workers at a Central American location as part of the contracted work.

“I’m incredibly disappointed [and] determined never to let it happen again,” Strickland said. “It shouldn’t have happened. We were unaware that this company would outsource these jobs. Perhaps we could have done a better job of vetting the company.”

He added, “But going forward, I can assure you that whenever we let a contract, we’re going to ask the question very definitely, and any company that’s going to outsource jobs using these resources or other state resources will not receive a contact from us.”

Ohio was awarded more than $11 million in federal-stimulus funding to provide rebates to residents who purchased energy- efficient appliances, including washing machines and water heaters. Of that total, more than $350,000 went to a Texas company to administer the program, according to documents on file with the state Controlling Board, the lawmaker panel that signed off on the contract in late March.

WCMH-TV in Columbus reported this week that the company used a call center in Central America as part of its work on the rebate program, prompting criticism from members of Ohio’s congressional delegation and others.

House Republican Leader John Boehner said in a released statement. “Gov. Strickland owes Ohio families asking ‘Where are the jobs?’ an explanation as to why stimulus funds allocated by his administration were used to create jobs in Central America, and why he has repeatedly refused to establish an independent, bipartisan panel to prevent this misuse of taxpayer dollars.”

But Strickland offered assurances Thursday that future state contracts would not be awarded to companies outsourcing positions.

“I’m disappointed that it happened, and I’m determined that it will never happen again,” he said.

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