Claremore Daily Progress

May 1, 2013

Emergency Management audit reveals documentation lapses

Salesha Wilken
Staff Reporter

CLAREMORE —

Oklahoma State Auditor Gary Jones recently released the results of a turnover audit for Rogers County Emergency Management, listing several findings due to a lack of proper documentation.
The documentation of fixed assets is necessary to ensure compliance with state statutes, according to the report. The Rogers County Commissioners requested the audit in January, after the termination of Bob Anderson, former director of emergency management.
“I think it was a prudent move by the Board of County Commissioners  to ask the state auditor for a turnover audit,” commissioner Kirt Thacker said. “In a time when some government officials continually give lip service to transparency, we are actually doing it.”
Anderson worked for the county for more than 16 years and according to the auditor’s report, failed to properly comply with record keeping procedures.
“Additionally, internal control policies and procedures have not been designed or implemented to ensure accurate recordkeeping of fixed assets inventory and the safeguarding of assets against loss and/or theft,” the report states.
Anderson had not filed inventory records consistently with the county clerk’s office, according to Thacker.
The state auditor found several pieces of equipment in the personal possession of Anderson and the former deputy director of emergency management.
After Anderson’s employment was terminated, he reported to the Claremore Daily Progress that he had made several attempts to return equipment to the county. Thacker said it would be expected that an emergency management director could have equipment that was mobilized for use at different agencies throughout the county. Some of the items listed in the report were located at the Tri-District Fire Department as well as the personal possession of Anderson.
The items included a $9,999 Cub Cadet Country Fire Rescue 4x4, several radios, binoculars, camcorder, 37” LCD HGTV, TomTom GPS units, printers, cameras, a dovetail trailer and two military flight suits.
Purchasing records for the items were on file and appropriately approved by the commissioners in office at the time of purchase.
Anderson said the items were purchased with grant money, not county funds and that some of the items were placed offsite by the previous director of emergency management.
The items simply were not properly accounted for on inventory reports, according to the report. All of the items, excluding six purchases were returned to the county. 
One of the items was a Troy Built Generator, which Anderson replaced on March 9 through the Tri-District Fire Department. It is likely the other items were old or broken and then junked, but not documented, according to Thacker.
The generator was provided to a family for use during one of the historic ice storms that hit Rogers County, according to the report. The generator was never returned and therefore replaced by the loaning agency.
This generator was not the only one loaned to the public during the storm.
Thacker, in cooperation with local emergency service agencies, provided many generators to families of seriously ill individuals that may have been on oxygen or other life sustaining equipment. Additional generators were provided to employees that were working to clear roadways during the disaster, resulting in a similar situation. An employee’s home burned damaging a generator, as a result the equipment was junked and properly disposed, according to Thacker. The documentation regarding the disposing of county equipment was completed for the generator and is on file in the Rogers County Clerk’s office.
The county is implementing several controls to help insure accuracy of inventory records throughout all county departments, according to Thacker.
Emergency situations can create additional stress and difficulty for record management, according to county officials.
“During an emergency situation the primary focus is public safety,” Thacker said. In the ice storm disaster time, people would call with desperation in their voices. Being a proactive person, I purchased the generators to help and get them to the people as fast as possible.”
The BOCC will require resolutions for surplus and disposal of any items on the current updated inventory by not only emergency management, but all county departments, according to Thacker.