Your State Government in Action: Fire Programs Edition

An audit of three public safety agencies — the Virginia State Police, the Department of Emergency Management, and the Department of Fire Programs — has revealed numerous shortcomings in internal control systems, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

“Today was not a good day for public safety [agencies],” acknowledged Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne, who attended the auditor’s presentation for the findings on the Emergency Management Department. “Obviously, there are some issues the administration needs to deal with.” Writes the newspaper:

The problems included “rampant use of signature stamps” to approve reimbursements with no way to verify who used them; reimbursement of training class tuition without prior approval; reimbursement for use of personal vehicles by employees who have assigned state vehicles; mismanagement of procurement funds; and lack of control over credit cards, travel and capital assets.

The Department of Fire Programs, which was found deficient in 14 areas, was elevated into the high-risk pool for closer scrutiny.

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4 responses to “Your State Government in Action: Fire Programs Edition

  1. I notice that LarryG was quick to jump on the NoVa GOP about the Amazon matter; not so quick when it came to that audit thingey in Richmond involving a financially out-of-control state government (oops, apologies for the tautology; lost my head). Heck, Jim doesn’t even mention that it’s been the Democrats in control of the executive for the last… how many years? DJ has it right: Larry comes off as just another partisan hack, sorta like what he accuses the GOP of.

    But I want to be sympathetic to Larry’s thinking. It’s probably due to his acceptance of government as the answer to most problems, beyond which it’s simply a partisan discussion of which party does it better. And since the GOP generally, but surely not always, wants to do less government, the choice for Larry is simple.

    Mitch Daniels had one easy solution for the management of state cars: State bureaucrats asked for additional garage space for state cars. Daniels had an aide place a penny on top of the rear tire of every state car parked on the state parking deck. Months later he sold all the cars that still had the pennies, which was dozens of them. There was no new garage space.

  2. Oh, the many ways an agency management team can slip into complacency on following those pesky financial accounting rules! ‘Tis not political. It’s human. It’s laziness, or an unwillingness to be hard nosed and tell people – no! For four years it was my job to worry about what an audit might show as I worked for an Aspiring Governor (aka an Attorney General) and plenty of people don’t like following the rules when it comes to things like cars, per diem payments, travel arrangements, credit card records, cell phones, computer use….Love that idea of Daniels’. I should have done the same with printed Virginia Code sets, which every lawyer wanted IN FULL in every office (one helluva an annual expense to update). I’m sure most volumes were never, ever touched as more and more research moved on line.

    A little public embarrassment such as the APA just delivered can be very motivating…

  3. You can believe that this is a big, big deal within state government. No state agency head wants to get gigged by the APA, even less to be publicly humiliated as were the three agencies at the JLARC meeting. Having all three to be in the same secretariat should be embarrassing for the Secretary.

    Without condoning the Dept. of Fire Program’s lapses, it is important to realize that it is harder for a small agency, especially one with frequent turnover in top management and the financial section, to comply with all the accounting procedures. Such allowances should not be accorded to the Dept of State Police (25 findings in the property and finance section alone!) and the Dept. of Emergency Management. Not only did that latter agency have five major audit findings, the Auditor pointed out that the agency had used one-time year end balances to fund additional positions, which are on-going costs. Not only is that poor management, it may have violated a provision of the Appropriation Act that requires reappropriated funds to be used for “non-recurring costs”.

  4. >>‘Tis not political. It’s human. It’s laziness, or an unwillingness to be hard nosed and tell people – no!

    Steve, I agree with you, but it’s also the nature of government. There is no real incentive except personal pride to do the right thing, what with civil service protections, tenure, inability to fire, government unions and on and on. In the private sector you get fired.

    Daniels had a way of being hard-nosed without seeming to be hard-nosed. When he was OMB Director, he tried to have his office voicemail system altered to play “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” when callers were on hold. Somebody at the White House put the nix on it.

    The Daniels type is a rarity in government.

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