NASHVILLE — A state audit has found issues with tracking credit card expenses and with reporting lost or stolen equipment at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
The state comptroller's office says that its auditors found dozens of problems with credit card purchases, including a violation of purchasing limits and nine transactions in which employees of the TWRA paid for items prohibited under state policies.
State Sen. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Fields, told The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/19P88u8 ) the audit makes the agency appear out of control.
"They don't know what the bureaucrats are doing," said Niceley, a frequent critic of the agency. "The whole thing is not working."
Next year, lawmakers are scheduled to debate whether to extend the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission's charter or replace it. An initial hearing on the issue will take place next week.
The 40-page audit is the first since 2010 of the TWRA. The agency employs 701 people assigned to four regional offices.
Auditors found that out of 154 purchases they reviewed, 36 were done improperly. One transaction for $3,935 was split four ways to get around a $2,000 spending limit, while $1,041 was spent on items that state policies said could not be bought with a state card.
The comptroller cited TWRA's failure to fix problems related to its management of state-owned equipment, despite being asked to address the failings in two previous audits over six years. Those deficiencies have led to equipment being missing for as long as four years without being reported.
Auditors did not suggest criminal wrongdoing or assign blame for the mistakes. In its official response, the TWRA concurred with the audit's findings, and in many cases, officials said, they already have undertaken steps to address the problems.
Information from: The Tennessean, http://www.tennessean.com