Whistleblowers within the Colorado Department of Revenue say that waste, incompetence, and mismanagement in the agency are costing state taxpayers millions of dollars.
The Denver Channel’s Contact 7 says it received a letter in a Colorado Department of Revenue envelope from “Concerned Colorado Department of Revenue Employees, Taxpayers, & Citizens of Colorado.” The whistleblowers pointed to “Climate Surveys” that assess the atmosphere within the agency by compiling anonymous feedback from Tax Division employees.
“It is very important you get the results of these surveys … to understand the level of internal strife caused by the incompetence and mismanagement of resources by our leadership team,” the whistleblower letter to Contact 7 said. “No one outside CDOR is paying attention to this problem and taxpayers are out millions of dollars.”
Contact 7 says it submitted an open records request for the surveys to substantiate the allegations of incompetence, mismanagement, and waste but received heavily redacted records. Leaders at the Colorado Department of Revenue have refused repeated requests to release key portions of the survey, prompting the Denver Channel to hire a lawyer.
A CDOR spokesperson told Contact 7 that the surveys were blacked out to protect the public. The spokesperson claimed a release of the information would “result in substantial injury to the public because it would limit the Department of Revenue’s ability to internally seek and provide uninhibited opinions” from agency personnel employees.
However, a lawyer working to obtain the intact documents says that “it denies the public its right to inspect records that reflect the conduct of public business and that’s the whole purpose of the [Colorado] Open Records Act.”
The lawyer also indicated that the agency’s argument that releasing the comments could potentially expose the identities of their authors lacks merit.
“If the supervisors aren’t able to determine who submitted these comments, the public certainly wouldn’t be,” he told Contact 7.
The Tax Division’s software system and staff leaders were among the concerns the whistleblowers wrote about. According to the letter, the whistleblowers, “at the time of their appointments [the Tax Division’s leaders] had little to no tax administration experience or qualifications, even though it was (or should have been) a minimum requirement of their jobs.”