Treasurer John Kennedy speaks to members of the House Appropriations Committee about Gov. Bobby Jindal's budget recommendations for next year, on Wednesday, March 18, 2015, in Baton Rouge, La. Kennedy has been critical of some of the financing maneuvers Jindal proposes. (AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte)

More than half of Louisiana’s state contracts with outside entities do not have to be approved by a centralized authority in state government — totaling nearly $6.2 billion in taxpayer dollars, according to an audit released this week.

The Office of State Procurement, within the Division of Administration, oversees thousands of contracts that state agencies enter into but many more are delegated out.

In all, the state had at least 14,693 contracts worth about $21 billion as of November, the audit found.

OSP director Paul Holmes, in responding to the audit’s findings, defended the delegation of contract approval, noting that the office has the right to audit any contract and agencies file quarterly reports on contracts.

“OSP ... stands ready to increase its ability and capacity to track and account for other state contracts which do not currently fall within its purview, if and when statutory authority to do so is extended,” he wrote.

But state Treasurer John Kennedy said the audit raises alarms and that the current system doesn’t provide for a central database for the public to keep track of contracts.

The audit notes that 4,599 contracts totaling about $278.6 million were delegated out and would not show up in a centralized system.

“This confirms my worst fears,” he said. “Not only do we have too many contracts, but we’re hiding from the public the number of consultants we’re hiring. It’s time to completely reform the way contracts are handled in state government.”

A state lawmaker has proposed legislation this session that would change the state contract process.

House Bill 30, sponsored by state Rep. Dee Richard, would give the Legislature more control over contracts. It has been referred to the House Appropriations Committee but has not had a hearing.

The legislative session ends June 11.

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