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Auditor General Jack Wagner Says He Will Audit Performance of LCB’s Malfunctioning Wine Kiosks
HARRISBURG, Pa., Dec, 22, 2010 – Auditor General Jack Wagner said today that he would conduct a special performance audit of the Liquor Control Board’s wine kiosks, which malfunctioned and were shut down Tuesday night until early next year.
Wagner said his audit would focus on whether the kiosks, which are located in 30 supermarkets across the commonwealth, are delivering the customer convenience and additional revenue to the commonwealth that the Liquor Control Board touted when it awarded a contract to Simple Brands LLC of Conshohocken. Simple Brands was the only company to respond to the Liquor Control Board’s 2008 request for proposals.
“The kiosks’ breakdown during the height of the holiday shopping season has left customers high and dry, and we want to know why,” Wagner said.
State law requires the Department of the Auditor General to audit the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, which is the largest purchaser of wine and spirits in the United States; it operates 625 retail stores in the commonwealth. Wagner conducted a review last year of the LCB’s awarding of a $173,000 contract with vague specifications for bid proposals.
The Liquor Control Board launched the kiosk program – the first of its kind in the nation -- to much fanfare in June, with a test program in two Harrisburg-area supermarkets. An LCB official said in August that the technology, which requires customers to scan their driver’s license and pass a Breathalyzer test, was “working rather well.” He also said that sales were running 20 to 30 percent higher than anticipated.
The program was expanded and kiosks are now stationed in 30 supermarkets, including select Giant, Wegmans, Giant Eagle, Fresh Grocer and Shop ‘n Save food stores.
The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board announced the kiosks’ holiday closing in a Dec. 21 press release, citing “mechanical and technological issues.” LCB Chairman Patrick J. Stapleton said the kiosks would reopen in early 2011, but did not provide a specific date.
Wagner is a long-time proponent of making the state-store system more customer-friendly by requiring all retail outlets to be open more hours each day, seven days a week.
The Department of the Auditor General’s audits of the Liquor Control Board are available to the public at www.auditorgen.state.pa.us.
Auditor General Jack Wagner is responsible for ensuring that all state money is spent legally and properly. He is the Commonwealth’s elected independent fiscal watchdog, conducting financial audits, performance audits and special investigations. The Department of the Auditor General conducts more than 5,000 audits per year. To learn more about the Department of the Auditor General, taxpayers are encouraged to visit the department’s Web site at www.auditorgen.state.pa.us.
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