Auditor plans to look at county vehicle use and employee travel
Maui County Auditor Lance Taguchi will examine county vehicle use and county employee travel as part of a planned list of audits for the current fiscal year.
The list of audits appeared in a letter transmitted by Taguchi to the Maui County Council. Taguchi’s list of planned and pending audits for the year through June 30 is scheduled to be received formally by the council at its meeting today.
The auditor’s office recently completed a study of the county’s procurement card, or P-card, program. It identified some improper use of P-cards, including by Finance Director Danny Agsalog, who booked two family members’ airline tickets on his P-card, while booking his own ticket for a county-related conference on the Mainland.
Although Agsalog paid the county by check for the cost of his two family members’ tickets before putting all three fares on his P-card, Taguchi said that the use of the card in this case was improper and set a poor example for the rest of the county because Agsalog is the county’s chief procurement officer.
The audit also noted that a county employee’s transactions were under active criminal investigation, and the transactions of another worker were being investigated internally by the employee’s department.
As for upcoming audits, Taguchi said Thursday that many other municipalities have done audits on vehicle or fleet use. He pointed to Maui County placing GPS units in many of its vehicles several years ago to track and stop possible abuse by workers. The units also help monitor vehicle wear and tear.
Since that program has gone on for several years, Taguchi wants to examine the county’s vehicle policy and enforcement program and see if there are any violations.
Managing Director Keith Regan said Thursday that 550 county vehicles out of 713 in the fleet are part of the GPS program. Overall, 76 vehicles are approved as “take home vehicles.” This is down from 165 prior to the county vehicle use policy implemented by the Department of Management in 2012, Regan said.
According to county records, all departments covered by the vehicle-use policy are compliant, he said.
The county employee travel audit derives from the P-card use audit, which found that four of the top 10 vendors were airlines. The recent P-card audit showed that $808,445, or nearly 20 percent of the county’s total P-card spending, involved airlines.
Taguchi said this is a “good place for us to take a look” because there is high volume of travel transactions on the cards.
The travel audit is in the beginning stages, and Taguchi did not have an exact date for when the audits would be completed.
His staff is close to completing a different audit, which examines premium pay and overtime in the Department of Fire and Public Safety. Taguchi said this audit, which began in December 2015, may be completed in late August.
The audit arose from a “significant spike” in premium pay and overtime in the department during an examination of county payroll, he said.
Other potential audits this fiscal year include an examination of the costs of county park facilities and county grants. Taguchi said the discussion about potentially closing the Waiehu Municipal Golf Course this past budget session raised the question of how much it costs to maintain county parks facilities. As for county grants, Taguchi said millions of dollars are given to nonprofit agencies each year, and he wanted to look into how those dollars are being spent.
The audits this fiscal year also involve an audit of the auditor. Taguchi is in the process of arranging a peer review by the Association of Local Government Auditors, of which he and his staff are members. He said that the review is similar to what certified public accounting firms undergo.
“It helps to let us and, to some extent, the public know how we are doing,” Taguchi said of the evaluation.
The county Office of the Auditor released its first plan of audits in 2014 after voters in the 2012 General Election established the office. Since then, the county auditor’s office has produced 16 audits, 12 of which are charter mandated, such as annual financial reports. The office also has produced four self-initiated audits.
These include audits of P-card use; the county’s road resurfacing, improvements and maintenance practices; the fiscal 2012 budget appropriation for the Old Wailuku Post Office Rehabilitation project, which involved the demolition of the building; and the treasury function of the Department of Finance.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.