Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites

Clerical error extends expired travel contract


The state of Oregon severed its ties to contract travel agent Azumano Travel Services on Dec. 14, after the Willamette Week newspaper reported the state had not put the contract out for competitive bidding since 2005.

The state’s letter to Azumano in December revealed a limit on the length of the contract had caught them on guard. The contract was scheduled to expire Dec. 31, 2015, but in order to give the state time to transition to another travel agent, the state canceled the contract with Azumano effective Jan. 31, 2016.

Azumano’s contract with the state initially ran for three years with optional extensions, but it was limited to 10 years, according a state document.

Azumano’s owner until 2014, Portland businessman Sho Dozono, also had financial trouble. With help from then-Gov. John Kitzhaber, Azumano obtained a $300,000 loan from the state of which the company repaid approximately $150,000, Willamette Week reported.

Nonetheless, the state continued to use Azumano to book state employees’ travel.

Matt Shelby, a spokesman for the Department of Administrative Services, said state employees did not discover the Azumano contract had expired, until lawmakers raised questions in November following Willamette Week’s article. State Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, asked Dianne Lancaster, the state’s chief procurement officer, about the contract during a Nov. 18 hearing at the House Interim Committee on Consumer Protection and Government Effectiveness.

State employees who were researching answers to Buehler’s questions discovered that due to a clerical error, the state contracts database erroneously showed the Azumano contract extended through Dec. 31, 2016.

The state used Azumano to book approximately $4.4 million worth of flights, hotels and rental cars from November 2014 through October 2015, according to data from the Oregon Department of Administrative Services. The state paid Azumano approximately $185,000 in service fees during that period.

Meanwhile, the state already had a contract with another vendor, Corporate Travel Management, which it obtained through a competitive bidding process in 2012 via the Western States Contracting Alliance. The Department of Administrative Services was unable to provide the fee structure and other contract details of the Azumano contract and multi-state master agreement with Corporate Travel Management on Thursday, because staff were out of the office during the holidays.

Although the state of Oregon started to use the new contract to book some lodging, it had not used it to reserve flights or rental cars, according to a letter to lawmakers. State procurement employees currently plan to transition to booking all travel through Corporate Travel Management by February 2016.

“What we’ve done is essentially accelerate that transition to a different provider that we actually already had a contract with,” Shelby said.