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TWRA Audit Finds Potential for Fraud, Waste

Updated: Wednesday, October 16 2013, 12:47 AM CDT
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A state audit reveals the potential for waste, fraud and abuse at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. 

The agency admits there's a problem. The problems center around how money was being spent on state credit cards, as well as improper bookkeeping, and failing to keep track of equipment.   

"In some of those cases we just absolutely did fail," says TWRA Asst. Director Barry Sumners. The state review found numerous problems with credit card purchases, including employees who bought items that are prohibited under state rules, and employees who failed to turn in receipts.

The audit finds the TWRA did not maintain proper controls, increasing the risk for fraud, waste and abuse. "If we're getting sloppy with the paperwork, than it leaves the door open for that kind of thing, so we do need to tighten up some," says Sumners.

Another issue raised in the audit conerns the TWRA's equipment. If an item gets lost or stolen, the paperwork sometimes isn't filed for months, even years. "We lost the paperwork, we didn't send it for whatever reason, so we did fail to notify the Comptroller's office as we were supposed to," says Sumners.

The audit comes as the state legislature considers whether the agency's commission charter should be extended. Senator Frank Niceley says it's a management problem.  Niceley says the TWRA's executive director should resign. "I don't know what it takes for them to get the message that we're not satisfied with the way it's being managed," says TN Sen. Frank Niceley, (R) Strawberry Plains.

Meanwhile, the TWRA pledges to fix its problems immediately. "We intend to show that we can handle everything correctly," says Sumners.

Some of the findings in the audit have been consistent problems.  Audits in 2007 and 2010 also found issues with the way equipment is handled at the TWRA.

For news updates follow John Dunn on twitter @WZTVJohnDunn

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