Lawmaker seeks oversight review of Test Iowa program

Iowa Capitol Dome
The dome of the Iowa State Capitol. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

A state lawmaker asked legislative leaders Thursday to convene an oversight panel to review the performance of a contractor hired to expand COVID-19 testing in the state.

Rep. Sharon Steckman, D-Mason City, asked House Speaker Pat Grassley during a meeting of the Legislative Council whether the Government Oversight Committee would look into the Test Iowa program. The state entered a no-bid, $26 million contract with Utah-based Nomi Health to provide expanded testing.

“The week of May 11th, Test Iowa processed 3,100 tests and we were promised 3,000 a day. And it’s been three weeks and we’re not even close to that yet,” Steckman said.

She cited a reported breakdown of 10 test machines and media reports of people waiting three weeks for test results.

State Rep. Sharon Steckman, D-Mason City. Photo courtesy of Iowa Legislature

“Who are they answering to and I’m wondering if there is any oversight,” she said.  “So .. $26 million, I really think we need to be making sure, whether it’s federal or state money, that it’s being spent correctly.”

House Speaker Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, did not rule it out but said he had not had any conversations with the chair of the oversight committee.

Gov. Kim Reynolds on Thursday acknowledged there had been some hiccups in the Test Iowa program, including some people waiting weeks for results. However, she said, test validation was complete through the State Hygienic Lab and she expected the rate of testing would pick up.

The Legislature, which suspended its session due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is scheduled to return to session June 3. The Legislature Council, comprised of 24 lawmakers, met Thursday by telephone to approve a resolution setting the date for the return to regular session.