From Sean Cockerham in Anchorage –
There is some double counting and other apparent issues with the Palin administration spreadsheet outlining $1.9 million in state costs for ethics complaints, public records requests and lawsuits.
The administrative director in the governor’s office, Linda Perez, conceded that some costs were counted twice and said “the total cost is overstated by $26,849.” She said she missed that the Department of Law’s updated numbers included costs that were already counted.
“It was my error…mea culpa,” said Perez, who has worked for governors of both parties since the 1980s.
Perez said she’s going to ask the Department of Law about some other puzzling parts of the spreadsheet, including a line item that says 0.3 attorney hours added up to $10,063 in costs. That would add up to an attorney billing of over $30,000 an hour, and Perez said the flat billing rate the state uses for its attorneys is $121.98 an hour. Perez said she would check and see what costs beyond the staff time went into that calculation of over $10,000 in costs.
There are also discrepancies between two pages provided by the administration detailing attorney hours on ethics complaints. For example, one sheet lists 119.4 attorney hours adding up to $14,564.41 for work on an ethics complaint, but the other page says it was 13.3 attorney hours adding up to almost the same amount, $14,565, for work on that same “Troopergate” related complaint.
Perez said she'll check with the Department of Law on this.
Questions have also been raised about the costs listed for the governor’s office in dealing with this stuff.
Perez said the initial costs for the governor's office through March 24 added up to $315,268 for 4,488 staff hours for 49 employees. That equals $70 an hour at 90 hours average work for those employees. She said the updated cost adds $110,281 through June 23, representing 1,285 additional staff hours spent by 29 employees. That's an average rate of $86 an hour.
Perez said that doesn’t mean governor’s office employees are being paid an average salary of $85 an hour.
She said those figures don’t reflect just the salary they get, but also their benefits and other costs the stay pays to employ them.
“For every $10 in payroll I’ve got $3.35 employer costs plus health insurance on it…. This ranges everywhere from an intern I hired at $10 an hour up to the hourly cost for John Katz (the director of the governor’s Washington, D.C., office. She said the cost for Katz is almost $118 an hour including employer costs.
Alaska blogger Mel Green has been going through spreadsheet issues in detail over the past few days. It's also attracted the attention of Mako Yamakura, a blogger with the Detroit News.