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$395 game doesn't pass go

For $395, it's got to be better than Monopoly.

"It's even better than Battleship," joked Dan McCall, chief of the auditing bureau in the state Comptroller's Office.

But the Diversity Game, at this point, is no laughing matter.

The Comptroller's Office is having a hard time understanding what this board game is and why the state Department of Transportation wants taxpayers to spend $395 on it for DOT's Tampa office.

In a short paragraph on a purchase order, DOT offered the following explanation: "This "board game' will be used as a training tool to introduce diversity issues. This "game' will provide information & insights into social & economic trends in the current & future work force."

What?

"I generally don't accept justification that I don't understand," McCall said.

His office returned the purchase documents to DOT this week, asking for a better explanation.

"We're saying we don't know why you need this and you need to tell us," McCall said.

The District 7 DOT office in Tampa will be writing back, offering greater detail for its request, spokeswoman Lee Royal said.

She said the district's human resources development office is trying to create training courses for managers and other employees.

"We want to dispel myths and common stereotypical-type beliefs people have, and increase awareness to ethnic, cultural, gender, and other diversities in the workplace," Royal said.

You won't see DOT workers sitting around playing a board game though.

Royal said only the cards that come with the game, which have multiple-choice questions, will be used as tools for in-house training courses.

"The cards don't come alone: You have to buy the package," she said.

The Diversity Game, available through Quality Educational Development in New York, is described in company literature as "a multiplayer board game in which teams compete by answering multiple-choice questions. Categories include demographics, jobs, legislation and society."

In January, the Comptroller's Office asked for a better explanation when the DOT wanted taxpayers to spend $1,515 on 25 compact discs featuring a variety of music. The agency said it needed the CDs to make videos for Gov. Lawton Chiles and other state agencies.

The Comptroller's Office approved the purchase after a letter of explanation from DOT Secretary Ben Watts.

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