Today, the Washington State Auditor’s Office found that two equipment technicians at the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) violated state law and DNR policy, costing the state an estimated $63,000 between July 1, 2011 and November 30, 2013. During this period of time, the two technicians managed to procure “parts from a vendor that was not on the state’s master contract, making questionable parts purchases and exceeding their purchasing authority on multiple occasions without supervisory approval.” In all, they exceeded their purchase authority 137 times.
How were the two employees able to get away with violating state law and DNR policy 137 times over the course of approximately two years without being caught? The state auditor found that “internal controls at the Department were not adequate to safeguard public resources.” In other words, DNR does not have the mechanisms in place to prevent fraud, waste and abuse of taxpayers’ hard earned dollars.
The DNR failed in the most basic accounting practices. It failed to ensure that all items are recorded in inventory, it failed to ensure appropriate inventory levels, and it failed to review work orders. Basic mistakes that, if made in the private sector, would lead to the shut-down of any business. However, since it is government, the DNR get a minor fine and slap on the wrist.
You can review the state’s audit report here.