Audit: Department of Conservation has flaws, but is generally well managed

Cuivre River | Photo courtesy of Yinan Chen.
Cuivre River | Photo courtesy of Yinan Chen.

A new report from the office of Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway shows some ignorance of the rules by the Missouri Department of Conservation, but the audit concludes that the department is generally well managed, giving it a rating of “good.”

Even so, the report highlighted a handful of blemishes. One issue the report found was the skirting of tax code when providing clothing to employees.

In order to keep work clothing non-taxable for employees, the Department of Conservation is required to put its logo on the apparel. In 2007, in order to avoid these taxes, the department began using a small logo to the inside of clothing with no other logo. The audit report argues that a logo on the interior of the clothing is not enough to prevent the article from being taxed. The report identified at least $103,000 of non-logo clothing purchases going unreported in 2014.

Photo courtesy of Nicole Galloway/LinkedIn
Nicole Galloway| Courtesy of Nicole Galloway/LinkedIn

The audit also found the Department of Conservation spent excessive amounts of money on meals. In 2013 and 2014, the department hosted a banquet and two dinners for which total costs came to approximately $40, $57 and $61 per person, respectively. The department was also found to have not implemented meal limits for traveling employees, as is required by executive order.

The Department of Conservation also ran into some transportation issues, according to the audit. Specifically, the department used chartered planes on days that state-owned planes were available, resulting in about $122,000 of unnecessary costs in 2012 and 2013.

The audit also estimates the department could have saved $83,000 over two years if it had reimbursed employees for vehicle mileage rather than using planes.

Despite these findings, the audit found the overall performance of the Department of Conservation to be good, but also said the department only plans to implement half of the audit’s suggestions, indicating disagreement between the auditor’s report and the department itself.

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