Springfield, MO

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State auditor concludes ...

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The Missouri Department of Transportation's decision to provide generous moving expenses to its employees has resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars being spent on department administration costs instead of on state road projects, according to a report by State Auditor Margaret Kelly.

A review of department expenditures found the department spends far more than other state agencies when providing moving expenses to employees who are transferred.

The department's moving expense policy exceeds guidelines established by the Office of Administration in areas such as paying Realtor fees on the sale of the old home, closing costs on the old and new home, mortgage points and interest, increased federal and state income taxes due to the reimbursed expenses, plus an additional amount to cover the increased tax liability on the income tax reimbursement, a practice referred to as a "gross up."

In about half the moves examined, state auditors found the department paid moving expenses that exceeded 10 percent of the employee's annual salary. In four cases examined, the moving expense was more than 50 percent of the employee's annual salary.

If the department had limited moving expenses to no more than 10 percent of an employee's salary, it could have saved more than $500,000 in fiscal year 1997 alone, Kelly said.

The state auditor also had concerns with imprudent or unreasonable expenditures made by the department in the areas of cellular phones and computer consulting services.

Other findings and recommendations in the report included:

?The department has not planned adequately to ensure its accounting system will be compatible with a new statewide accounting system that will be implemented over the next several years. The department's entire accounting system has ongoing problems that result in an inability to properly monitor expenditures.

?In fiscal year 1997, the department lost interest revenue of more than $320,000 because month-end business billings to the Federal Highway Administration were not submitted on a timely basis.

?The department has publicly announced it would have a zero increase in total employment and shift staffing from the central office to district offices. However, the number of employees at the central office continues to increase from 910 in 1991 to 1,165 in 1997.

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