LAS VEGAS -- Clark County auditors on Aug. 5, 2011, issued a report titled Clark County Water Reclamation District Tools and Small Equipment Expenditures that covered January 2009 through December 2010.
The audit concluded that "controls over the purchase of tools, small equipment and materials are not adequate to protect district assets. Employees can purchase and pick up merchandise using a corporate credit card or a company issued purchase card. These purchases were not receipted through the material control warehouse, resulting in an increased risk that purchases are not business related."
* While the water reclamation district maintains a list of employees who have been issued corporate Bank of America credit cards, no such list exists for its Home Depot charge cards.
"Without a current listing, the accounts payable clerk is unable to verify the Home Depot purchases are made by an approved district employee," the audit stated. "We found that controls over the use of the Home Depot credit card are insufficient to protect against inappropriate use."
* A review of four months of Home Depot invoices found 14 days in which employees made multiple same-day trips to Home Depot.
"Generally, a trip was made in the morning and the afternoon," the audit stated. "Additionally, on two of the trips, it appears that transactions were split to avoid the need of the assistant manager's approval. Multiple trips decrease the employee's productivity, increase fuel costs, and indicate a lack of project planning. Split transactions bypasses the approval process, so purchases can be made that might otherwise not be approved."
The audit recommended that the finance business center manager collect all Home Depot cards and close the credit card account. Instead, the district was encouraged to use an existing county agreement to purchase supplies from the Home Depot Supply Wholesale division. "Employees should not be allowed to pick up merchandise from the store," the audit stated.
* Auditors also said there was no business reason for the district to maintain a Lowe's credit card, which had a $24,000 line of credit. "Additionally, we recommend that management consider obtaining a company credit history report to determine what credit has been issued in the district's name and what credit risks may exist for the district," the audit stated.
* District employees weren't following county policy in fiscal 2010 for use of Bank of America purchase cards. The cards are only to be used for emergencies, travel and Internet purchases. They're not to be used for contracted commodities or services or for personal use. Yet auditors discovered purchases from Best Buy, Michaels, Wal-Mart and Sam's Club that weren't considered emergency purchases.
The district has contracts with Grainer, Home Depot and Staples but used the cards to make separate purchases at the three stores -- Grainer ($6,420), Home Depot ($1,551) and Staples ($1,076). Purchases were also made at Office Depot ($2,929) and Office Max ($753). Consequently, the district had to pay $371 in sales taxes.
"Because non-emergency purchases are not critical to an immediate activity or outcome, there is an opportunity to prevent inappropriate purchases," the audit stated. "By not following established policy and procedures, the opportunity exists for potential abuse of the purchase cards."
* A review of 70 purchases found numerous examples of excess or waste. A lunch room refrigerator was purchased for $1,719 even though prior purchases were $500 to $600 for other lunch rooms. Some $3,710 was spent on tools and small equipment that wasn't used, including a pressure washer ($399), a 15-inch planer ($1,400) and a router table system ($449). Ten tools worth $4,670 couldn't be found.
"An inventory listing of tools and small equipment is not maintained for the maintenance shop area, employees that are assigned tools, or tools located on district trucks," the audit stated. "None of the purchased items are tagged as property of the Clark County Water Reclamation District."
Auditors also identified six instances in August and September 2010 when similar tools were purchased just days apart from Grainer and Home Depot. "It is possible that the purchases were reasonable and necessary," the audit stated. "However, it appears that district funds may have been spent on tools previously purchased."
* Under district policy the two employees in its general manager group have authority to sign off on purchase requisitions up to $25,000, and the seven employees in its finance group can sign off on purchases up to $10,000. But in the district's computerized Maximo procurement system, the general manager's group was set up with a signature approval limit of $1 billion and the finance group was set up with a limit of $100 million. The auditors recommended correcting the Maximo limits to match district policy.
Auditors also found major gaps in the Maximo data system with 4,759 missing purchase requisition numbers from Jan. 1, 2009, through Dec. 31, 2010, including a gap of 1,144 between record numbers 53873 and 55018.
"Record gaps cause concern for data integrity," the audit stated. "For example, a purchase requisition could be issued, turned into a purchase order, the item obtained and then the purchase requisition and purchase order is deleted to erase any evidence of the item. This is a system weakness since all record numbers cannot be tracked."
A follow-up report issued this year on Aug. 21 concluded that the district took adequate corrective action for all findings in the audit. Among the actions taken by the district:
* The Home Depot and Lowe's credit cards were revoked and destroyed.
* The district developed a policy to have department managers approve all purchase requisitions.
* All supplies are to be receipted through the warehouse, all purchases are to be received at the warehouse, and a secured tool area has been established in the warehouse.
* The Maximo purchasing limit issues also were corrected.