BOISE -- In a ruling issued last week, the Idaho Supreme Court got right to the point: The Department of Administration's former head appears to have helped the state's biggest phone company win a contract.

Supreme Court Justice Jim Jones wrote former Administration Director Mike Gwartney likely used his influence to steer business to Qwest Communications Inc. -- and cut Syringa Networks out of the $60 million deal.

The ruling allows Syringa to pursue its claim against the agency. But it also comes as state lawmakers pursue ways to improve the agency's contract monitoring.

A measure has already cleared House and Senate.

Idaho contracting has long been a subject of scrutiny, including a botched 2010 Medicaid management deal.

A state auditor's report determined the process is plagued by inconsistencies and inadequate training.

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