The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission needs to do a better job of accounting for money spent on motor vehicle fuel and for its Discover Passes and other park revenues, the Washington State Auditor’s Office said Thursday.
“The Commission must be able to account for its use of public funds and ensure its stewardship of the lands, waters and historic places entrusted to it,” Auditor Troy Kelley said in a press release.
The auditor’s office criticized the handling of money generated by sales of the Discover Pass, which allows purchasers to access any state-managed park by paying an annual fee. This is the first audit since the Discover Pass was created.
During fiscal 2013, State Parks had more than $34 million in revenues, of which $11.6 million was collected at the parks and $5.5 million from sales of the Discover Pass.
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The auditor’s office looked at financial procedures at a sample of seven state parks. It found that in relation to Discover Passes, State Parks does not have written procedures to ensure the proper tracking of passes printed or distributed; does not maintain a daily log stating the number of passes sold; and does not reconcile the number of passes sold to deposit slips to ensure that all revenues were deposited.
The audit also found that in collecting cash, the agency had no controls to ensure all funds collected through secured boxes were deposited; had only one person collecting cash from boxes at park locations; and did not consistently make deposits in a timely manner.
That raised the danger that revenue collected could be misappropriated and that theft would not be quickly identified, the audit said.
State Parks concurred with the auditor’s finding, which both parties blamed in part on staff reductions in recent years. State Parks said it had requested funding for an internal auditor in its 2015 budget request, and had taken steps to ensure deposits were made within required time frames.
State Parks has also started conducting reviews of financial activity in individual parks, and is assessing controls for cash receipts and sales of the Discover Pass.
In another finding, the report said that, from July 2012 to July 2013, State Parks spent more than $1 million to purchase fuel, including $660,000 on individual fuel cards.
But the agency has no written policies or procedures on the use of fuel cards; does not reconcile individual receipts kept by state park locations to the monthly fuel card statements; and does not compare vehicle usage and mileage logs to fuel card statements.
The auditor’s office said the problems increase the risk that inappropriate use of fuel could occur and not be identified in a timely manner, making the commission vulnerable to misappropriation, misuse or loss.
State Parks said it would accept the auditor’s recommendations to develop written policies on fuel card usage and reconcile monthly fuel card statements to individual receipts and mileage logs.