There was no intent the Premier contract would lead to the construction of towers with federal grant money, according to the report.
The auditor's report states there were multiple errors in awarding the original contract to Premier. County commissioners did not appear to review the bid packages, and Gonzalez was listed as a reference on part of Premier's bid for the contract, Allred's report states.
The contract with Premier was then used by the state as a gateway to give Premier the go-ahead for work on 17 other towers, Allred argues.
That goes directly against the parameters of the federal grant, the report states. The conditions of the award state any subcontracts must me be made in an open and free manner, to the maximum extent possible.
In turn, Premier used subcontractors to erect 16 of the 17 towers made possible by the federal grant, the report states. Of the five subcontractors used, four - Allstate Tower Inc. of Kentucky, Installtek of Kentucky, Quality Tower Services of Texas and Vertical Technology Services of Maryland - are not licensed by the West Virginia Contract Licensing Board, according to a letter sent to Allred's office by Mitch Woodrum, director of licensing for the state Division of Labor.
Chelsea Ruby, spokeswoman for the division, said the board must license any contractor performing work in excess of $2,500.
The state also took money from the federal government and gave it to counties with the express intent of spending the money on state projects, the auditor argues. That's using counties as pass-through entities, completely skirting state purchasing rules, according to the report.
"Granting funds to the county rather than procuring the tower construction directly, while not technically illegal, did not align with Purchasing Division guidance and avoided the oversight of the Purchasing Division," the report states.
"This lack of Purchasing Division oversight enabled the contract to be noticed, bid and awarded in a manner inconsistent with the requirements of . . . the West Virginia Code."
State Purchasing Director David Tincher was leery of the work, according to the report. He sent an email to Gonzalez, Gianato and another official that said the state might not be following proper procedure.
In that email, Tincher said that the situation could warrant approval from the purchasing division before Premier should continue doing any construction.
The work did not stop, according to the auditor's report.
Allred also found the state failed to put one agency explicitly in charge of the State Interoperability Radio Network, the communications network for emergency responders.
The auditor's office made several recommendations.
It believes the Legislature should consider whether the Purchasing Division should have the power to oversee state grant funds and procurements. The executive branch should actually handle federal money, but when it can't, it should set up an official process for how to hand over control of that contract.
That means prohibiting the state from using counties as a pass through by making it illegal, the report recommends.
The state should also give the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety complete control of the State Interoperability Radio Network.
The department will welcome full control of the network, spokesman Lawrence Messina said.