Boards & Commissions
The history of the Division of Capital Assets Management of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services is a "work in progress". Research is ongoing. This page will be updated often until completed. Please return to this page to follow the evolution of this state agency.
Oklahoma's Board of Public Affairs was created by the state Legislature two years after statehood in 1909. That entity continues today as the Department of Central Services (DCS).
Originally, the Board consisted of three persons appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. Their terms of office coincided with the Governor's. The Governor was given authority to remove any member if "in his opinion, the public interests may thereby be subserved." Member's salaries were set at $3,000 per year. Members were prohibited from accepting "rebates". Acceptance of a rebate constituted a felony with a fine not to exceed $5,000 and a term in the state penitentiary of not less than five nor more than 10 years.
As constituted, the board was authorized to employ such clerical and manual help or assistance as may be necessary to the proper discharge of its duties. In 1909 those duties were: construction, repair, maintenance, insurance and operations of all buildings used or occupied by or on behalf of the state; to contract for building materials and rent buildings and rooms for any state office or officer; it was required to keep an accurate account of all property purchased for the state or any of the departments or officers thereof, including both branches of the Legislature; and it was required to purchase and acquire all furnishings, furniture and supplies of every kind or description for the use of the state or its officers. Though the scope of these duties has changed due to statutory exemptions, these duties are performed today by DCS Construction and Properties, Facilities Services and Purchasing Divisions.
1911 to 1919
During the 1911 Legislative session, additional duties were given to the Board. Added was a requirement that the Board ascertain the needs for state penal, charitable and educational institutions and all branches of government for necessary supplies and report its findings prior to the start of each Legislature. (At that time the Legislature met every other year.) The Board was required to keep records of the location, grade, quality and costs of the different kinds of building materials produced in the state. It was also required to grant preferences to Oklahoma product suppliers.
1913's Legislature transferred the Supervisor of Public Printing to Board authority. The Board was also required to perform an inventory of all state property and maintain those records in their office. It was given responsibility to dispose of surplus equipment by transfer from one department to another or through auction to the highest bidder. It was also given authority to "designate quarters" for each and every department of the state. The Board was directed to perfect title to all lands owned or claimed by the state. It was also directed to acquire tornado and fire insurance for all buildings owned by the state. Most of these duties are still performed by DCS. DCS includes Central Printing and Risk Management Divisions and the State Surplus Property Program.
Authority to transfer or trade excess goods produced at a state institution for the benefit of that institution was given to the Board in 1915.
Responsibility for sale of oil and gas leases on penal or eleemosynary (charitable institution) lands by bid was given to the Board in 1917. Also, a law was enacted that prohibited driving nails, boring holes or marking the walls in the new Capitol building without Board approval. That law remains in effect today.
With the state Capitol building completed, the 1919 Legislature gave the Board several new responsibilities. It was directed to control improvements and repairs about the Capitol building. It was authorized to purchase all lighting, plumbing, heating and ventilation supplies. It was directed to employ janitors, engineers and mechanics, telephone operators and visitors' attendants. It was required to put the House and Senate chambers in order prior to each session. Today, most of these duties are performed by the Facilities Services Division.
Also in 1919, the "Capitol Improvement District" was created. The Board was given several duties related to this district. It was directed to survey within a one mile radius of the Capitol all land unincorporated by "any city of the first class" (Oklahoma City). Within this district, the Board was authorized to build roads. The Board was authorized to solicit bids for construction. Roads would be financed by 10 year "special assessment" bonds. Assessments would come from adjoining property owners. When completed, these roads would be considered part of the State Highway System to be maintained by the State Highway Commission. Though boundaries have since been changed, the district created in 1919 is known today as the Capitol-Medical Center Improvement and Zoning District which is staffed by DCS employees.
1921 to 1929
The Board was given responsibility for a growing fleet of state automobiles in 1923. Duties included purchase, maintenance and proper marking of all vehicles. These responsibilities continue today and are carried out by the Fleet Management Division.
In 1927, the Legislature decided to memorialize historic state locations with granite markers. It required the Board to procure markers for the Historical Society from the State Reformatory at Granite, Oklahoma. A few of these markers still stand today.
Recognizing changing times and added responsibilities, the 1929 Legislature passed Board members salary increases. The chairman's salary was increased to $5,400 per year. The other two members' salaries were increased to $4,800 per year.
1931 to 1939
Significant new responsibility was given to the Board in 1931 when it was authorized to employ or contract with an auditor or auditing company to audit the books, records and files of all state commissions and departments. When completed, these reports were sent to the Governor. Also in 1931, the Board was given a one-time appropriation to furnish food, clothing, shelter and general upkeep of orphan children not in state institutions. Per capita expenditure was not to exceed $150 per year. For the first time, the Legislature removed a duty from the Board. After 1931, the Board was no longer responsible for procurement of furniture or supplies for the House and Senate.
The Board was directed to assign sixth floor Capitol attic space to Boy Scout Troop 29 for their use for meetings or play in 1935. This troop was known as "The Capitol Troop".
With major oil discoveries on public lands in the 1930's, the Legislature gave the Board responsibility to ensure the State's interests were served. The Board was authorized to put state land leases out to bid in 1935. With discovery of oil under the Capitol building and on surrounding state owned land, the Board was given authority to put those leases to bid in 1937. Special funds were established for sale and royalty proceeds and use of funds was specified.
During the "Great Depression", the federal government established programs to put people to work. A special session of the Legislature was called by the Governor in 1936. Resulting legislation directed the Board to build and furnish a state office building southwest of the Capitol, on the west side of Lincoln Blvd. and due west of the Oklahoma Historical Society Building. The Board was mandated to apply to the federal government for a Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works grant to cover as much expenses as possible. Remaining expenses would be paid from state funds, not to exceed $1 million. The Board was to make plans for the building and award the bid to the "lowest responsible bidder". It was also directed that workers "wherever practicable and available be bona fide resident laborers of the State of Oklahoma." The result of these efforts was the first of several state office buildings in the Capitol Complex. It is was named for Keokuk Falls native, Olympic gold medalist and professional athlete, Jim Thorpe.
Several new responsibilities were given to the Board during the 1937 Legislature. The Board was given responsibility for running all state hospitals with the exceptions of University Hospital, Crippled Children's Hospital and state Soldiers Hospital. The Board was directed to vacate possession of specified lands around the Capitol but responsibility for roads was retained. The Board was authorized to establish and operate diversified industries in penal and charitable institutions to produce goods for use by the state and political subdivisions. These goods were to generally not be otherwise manufactured in the state. It was directed to hire an industrial agent to supervise and direct industrial activities. They were required to consult departments and institutions to establish standards for quantity and quality with prices not to exceed wholesale market prices for similar products. The Board was directed to produce a catalog of these goods and products for distribution to all departments and institutions. These goods could only be sold to departments, institutions or charitable groups unless that product was not manufactured in the state. The Board was allowed to pay prisoners for their work up to $0.50 per day. A prisoner's family received 50% of the amount earned and the prisoner received the other 50% upon release. Money earned by the prisoner could not be confiscated to pay fines or for penalties for violation of prison rules.
Purchasing law was significantly changed in 1939. Requirements that all purchases in excess of $200 be competitively bid and awarded to the "lowest and best" bidder were added. Inventory responsibility was transferred from the Board to individual boards, commissions, departments and institutions. Each entity was required to make an annual inventory of all currently held items, record all new acquisitions, make record of all dispositions and compare those records with the next annual inventory. The Legislature authorized 64 new positions for the Board with specified salaries for each position. The total annual cost of these salaries was set at $99,200.
1959 to 1990's
In 1959, Governor J. Howard Edmondson brought his “prairie fire” campaign promises to state government. One of the many reforms implemented during his first year in office was the Oklahoma Central Purchasing Act. Prior to the Act, most purchasing authority was diffused throughout state agencies. The charge against the system was that agency directors were primarily political cronies and that the system allowed the politicians to dictate who got state contracts. The Act sought to remedy the situation and created the position of the Central Purchasing Director and provided procedures for the Central Purchasing Division to follow when making acquisitions. It also brought reporting requirements and penalties for failure to follow the Act.
In 1967, a bill passed to raise the purchasing sealed bid limit to $500.
In response to allegations of widespread corruption, particularly for state construction projects, in 1974 the Legislature passed several bills related to construction contracting. The Public Competitive Bidding Act provided specific procedures to solicit and award construction contracts for the state counties, municipalities and schools. Another bill specified procedures for hiring architects, engineers and land surveyors. The legislature also passed the Anti-Kickback Act, which set heavy penalties for seeking, receiving or offering kickbacks.
In 1980, the sealed bid limit was raised for purchasing to $750. It would not be changed again until 1991, when it was raised to $2,500.
The early 1990’s were a tumultuous time for the Central Purchasing Division. The Walters’ administration proposed legislation that critics charged would dismantle centralized procurement. The bill proposed raising the sealed bid limit to $10,000. The bill lacked safeguards to prevent a return to the pre Central Purchasing Act times. After passing the Senate, the bill died in the House.
In 1997, Governor Keating appointed the Fallin Commission to review and recommend changes to the central purchasing law. As a result of the commission’s effort, State of Oklahoma purchasing law was modified to allow agencies, boards and commissions with certified procurement officers and programs to execute purchases for $25,000 or less without involvement of the Central Purchasing staff. Additionally, the revised purchasing law established safeguards, including: state agency audits of their purchasing programs; training for state agency staff; and comprehensive purchasing rule changes.