Auditor of State News Briefs


Staff Reports



Former Bookkeeper Owes Nearly $18K for Delays, Missing Revenue

Columbus – A former bookkeeper who was perpetually sluggish in fulfilling her duties owes Jersey Township (Licking County) nearly $18,000, according to a state audit.

Auditors made the determination after learning that former Fiscal Officer Beth Croak’s tardiness from 2012 through 2015 cost the township $15,382 in fines and interest from the IRS, in addition to $1,057 from the state.

“Sometimes governments hit speed bumps, but this fiscal officer was stuck at a standstill,” Auditor Yost said. “I encourage Jersey Township’s new fiscal officer to contact my office’s Local Government Services Section for help in maintaining an appropriate pace moving forward.”

Croak, who assumed office in April 2012, waited until February 2016 to start filing employer quarterly federal tax return forms with the IRS for most of 2012 through 2015. When she finally submitted the required documents in April 2016, the township paid the penalties assessed by the revenue service.

Earlier in her term, Croak neglected to transmit $2,000 worth of state income taxes withheld from employees during fiscal year 2013. The township paid that amount, plus penalties and interest, after the state referred the missing payment to the Attorney General for collection.

Croak also had significant delays in her bookkeeping responsibilities, sometimes posting transactions to the township’s accounting ledgers up to nine months after funds were collected. Likewise, some funds were not deposited until the next fiscal year after they were recorded in the township’s ledgers.

Auditors issued a finding for recovery against Croak after they found no evidence that deposits were ever made for revenue from six zoning transactions totaling $795 and one $375 cemetery transaction. Affidavits from two employees who were designated to collect revenue indicated that the funds were turned over to Croak for deposit. In total, auditors issued $17,609 in findings for recovery against Croak.

Auditor Yost placed the township on the “unauditable” list in August 2015 and again this past April after officials were unable to provide auditors with the necessary financial records and data needed to complete audits for the 2013-14 and 2015-16 periods. Today’s audit release signals the township’s removal from the list for the 2013-14 audit period.

A full copy of this report is available online.

Performance Audit Finds Department of Health

Can Increase Efficiency and Streamline Process

Changes Could Save $1.1 Million for

Taxpayers, Funeral Directors and Registrars

Columbus – Using data driven decision-making, the Ohio Department of Health can protect vulnerable populations in the state’s nursing homes and related long-term care facilities more efficiently, according to a performance audit released today June 29 by Auditor of State Dave Yost.

By better balancing the makeup of the complaint-response teams that investigate problems in nursing homes, residential care facilities and intermediate care facilities, the department can reduce staff turnover, saving time and money spent in training new investigators, the audit found. The primary recommendation is to reduce the proportion of registered nurses hired for survey work because of the high turnover in their ranks. Doing so could save the department $120,499 annually, auditors estimate.

Auditors also recommended that the department analyze the location and frequency of care complaints and of the time necessary to investigate them in order to deploy dedicated complaint-investigation teams more efficiently.

“Thousands of Ohio families rely on the Department of Health to ensure that their loved ones are well-cared-for in nursing homes and similar facilities,” Auditor Yost said. “Those same families also benefit when their tax dollars are used in the most cost-effective manner to provide that protection.”

The audit also found that the department is likely to save funeral directors and local registrars $933,000 a year as it expands its electronic system for the filing of birth and death certificates,

Until recently, the department was using a complicated hybrid system that was partly electronic and partly based on paper documentation, imposing significant costs on those reporting births and deaths, as well as slowing the filing of the data. Updates introduced during the audit period aim to increase the use of electronic filing and reduce the paperwork component of the process. Once implemented, the changes also are projected to save the department $97,900 annually by reducing staff time spent on filing and data entry.

The audit was performed in accordance with Ohio Revised Code § 117.46, which provides that the Auditor of State conduct performance audits of at least four state agencies each budget biennium. The audit was conducted from October 2015 to June 2017.

Auditors examined the department’s Bureau of Long Term Care, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Finance Operations, Certificate of Need, and Laboratory Operations.

Other recommendations of the audit included:

Improving the financial accounting system to reduce the time spent on updating information.

Working with the state Legislature to streamline the Certificate of Need program for long-term-care facilities.

Improving tracking of the location and ownership of long-term-care beds throughout the state. The Department began work on this recommendation while the audit was under way.

Developing a laboratory information system that will allow management to analyze workload data and improve the efficiency of laboratory testing operations.

Auditors also highlighted the department’s participation in a laboratory integration project with the Ohio Department of Agriculture and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. The aim is to align the fiscal operations of all state labs to share resources and compare lab operations. The project includes sharing equipment and facilities, combining capital equipment budgets, and purchasing jointly to obtain lower prices. The Auditor of State encourages efforts that lower costs and improve the efficiency of government.

A full copy of this report is available online.

Performance Audit Recommends Nearly $500,000 in Revenue Enhancements for Department of Agriculture

Columbus – The Ohio Department of Agriculture could earn nearly $500,000 in additional revenue each year by consolidating office and laboratory space and renting out the surplus, based on recommendations of a performance audit released today (June 27) by Auditor of State Dave Yost.

The agency’s labs, which provide testing for animal diseases, consumer protection and horse racing, could better manage financial operations by determining the full costs of all testing services and adjusting rates accordingly, the audit notes. It also advises the agency to develop a labor tracking system to better capture how much time laboratory staff spend on testing, to improve the efficiency of the laboratories.

“The laboratories of the Ohio Department of Agriculture play a vital role in protecting Ohio’s agriculture, environment and consumers,” Auditor Yost said. “Better use of its resources will ensure that these crucial protections continue and provide even greater value to Ohioans.”

The audit was performed in accordance with Ohio Revised Code 117.46, which provides that the Auditor of State conduct performance audits of at least four state agencies each budget biennium. The audit was conducted from February to June of this year.

Auditors examined operations at the department’s campus in Reynoldsburg, where 12 buildings house offices, laboratories and support operations. Changes in department needs have left it with underused office and lab space. By consolidating office space and renting out the surplus, the agency could generate an estimated $103,314 annually, according to the audit. Doing the same with underused lab space could generate $382,413, auditors estimate. Converting one underused meeting room to office space and renting it out could generate an additional $6,526 in revenue, the audit found.

The agency should track the use of grounds-keeping and facility maintenance equipment, auditors advised, so that it has the data needed to right-size its equipment inventory. They also recommended that the department ensure all chemicals are properly stored, and disposed of when no longer needed.

Auditors highlighted the department’s participation in a laboratory integration project with the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. The aim is to align the fiscal operations of all state labs to share resources and compare lab operations. The project includes sharing equipment and facilities, combining capital equipment budgets, and purchasing jointly to obtain lower prices. The Auditor of State encourages efforts that lower costs and improve the efficiency of government.

A full copy of this report is available online.

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Staff Reports