published Monday, October 14th, 2013

State audit uncovers problems at Tennessee Wildlife Commission, TWRA

NASHVILLE — A new state audit has netted a mess of problems at the Tennessee Wildlife Commission and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency it oversees.

Among other issues, the TWRA, which oversees hunting, fishing and wildlife, did not maintain proper controls over employees’ state payment cards.

State Comptroller Justin Wilson’s office says that increases the risk that public resources “will be used improperly due to fraud, waste, and abuse.”

Auditors examined a fraction of the thousands of card purchases. They reported finding among other things nine purchases of goods and services banned by the state. A total of $1,041 was charged to state payment cards for computer-related items, utility billings and gift cards.

Another problem area is the chief of administrative services did not ensure the cards were inactivated in a timely way when 12 workers left the agency.

In yet another finding, auditors say that six years after the problem was first noted the TWRA still doesn’t maintain proper internal controls over equipment, which increases risk that “asset misappropriation will not be prevented or detected and corrected timely.”

Other findings include:

— The TWRA isn’t complying with requirements on crop leases, which the audit says boosts the risk “the agency would fail to generate appropriate amounts of revenue from leased land due to improper bidding and administrative practices.

"Employees failed to comply with the State Building Commission’s requirements regarding proper bidding, advertising, and documentation procedures for crop leases,” auditors say.

— The TWRA did not enforce its conflict-of-interest policies, which increases risks that potential conflicts of interest won’t be prevented or detected and addressed in a timely way. Management did not ensure that conflicts-of-interest forms were completed by Wildlife series class employees and maintained in the employees’ personnel files, according to auditors.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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