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Published on May 4th, 2012 | by Len Lazarick

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$2.6 billion transportation audit finds no problems; BPW heaps praise on departing secretary

Many audits of state agencies find wasted dollars, poor accounting controls, lax purchasing measures and even occasional fraud; so it’s worth pointing out that legislative auditors reviewing $2.6 billion of spending that went through the transportation secretary’s office found absolutely nothing.

“Our audit did not disclose any significant deficiencies in the design or operation of the department’s internal control,” said the auditors report. “Nor did our audit disclose any significant instances of noncompliance with applicable laws, rules or regulations.” The financial management information system supports the department’s purchasing, accounting and payment functions.

Transportation Secretary Beverley Swaim-Staley at opening of Intercounty Connector November 2011. (Photo by govpics)

Transportation Secretary Beverley Swaim-Staley at opening of Intercounty Connector November 2011. (Photo by govpics)

The good news comes as Transportation Secretary Beverley Swaim-Staley announced she’s leaving the post July 1, after almost three years in the job. Transportation is one of largest departments in state government with 9,000 employees in five modal agencies with an annual budget of $3.8 million.

Swaim-Staley has had her share of critical audits of agencies including the Mass Transit Administration and the State Highway Administration, but she’s had her share of successes, including the opening of the Intercounty Connector last year.

Comptroller Peter Franchot praised her effusively for several minutes at Wednesday’s Board of Public Works meeting. “For my money, there’s never been anyone better than Bev Staley,” said Franchot, who as a delegate chaired the transportation appropriations subcommittee. “She was always looking for ways to save taxpayer dollars” and had “unassailable integrity.”

Treasurer Nancy Kopp chimed in to “endorse everything the comptroller said,” and Gov. Martin O’Malley joined the chorus of praise.

O’Malley singled out “one very momentous, final accomplishment” for Swaim-Staley – getting “the treasurer and governor to applaud unanimously every word of something the comptroller has said.”

The room burst into laughter and Franchot grinned. The comptroller is often the lone voice of dissent on O’Malley administration contracts, as he would be later that morning at the same meeting.

“That [unanimity] has never happened before and I will be preparing a proclamation to honor the occasion,” O’Malley joked. Franchot actually sides with O’Malley 95% of the time.

Swaim-Staley accepted the praise on a realistic note, pointing out she still had several board meetings to go. “I’m sure we’ll have problems to resolve in the next couple of months,” she said.

“I’ve worked for the state since I was 20 years old and I wouldn’t change a thing,” Swaim-Staley said. “Some of you raised me, let’s be honest.”

–Len Lazarick
Len@MarylandReporter.com 

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  • Hungrypirana

    The
    audit doesn’t opine on the $2.6 billion spending.

     

    The
    audit was designed to test internal controls within the Department of
    Transportation – Secretary’s Office, that were not tested as part of other
    audits performed by the Legislative auditor.

     

    The
    auditors examined the Secretary’s central maintenance, database, and security
    controls surrounding FMIS; not the complementary controls residing outside the
    Secretary’s office or within the Office of Transportation Technology Services.

     

    Most
    of the testing appears to be within the ADPICS and R*STARS components of FMIS.

     

    The
    scope of the audit included testing transactions, but such testing probably was
    done to verify whether controls were working, rather than to verify that
    amounts recorded were correct and complete.

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  • Elizabeth

    Hungrypirana is correct.  The audit only looked at the computer controls over the system that PROCESSES that transactions.

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  • Cwals99

    The MarylandReporter would do well to provide some investigative journalism rather than simply act as a news release for what almost no one believes to be accurate pronouncements of a government free of fraud.  A government watchdog last year released data from an independent audit of a small sample of business tax credits in Montgomery County that showed a supermajority of contracts failed to meet the terms of contract.  When this same legislative committee for oversight was asked to complete a general statewide audit, they refused.  In Baltimore, the States Attorney completed an audit of government agencies that showed only Sheila Dixon’s relatively minor infractions as we hear now of Carl Stokes, chair of the City Council’s Finance committee admit to widespread fraud as again, watchdogs uncovered the fraud.  So, the citizens of Maryland know this report to be slanted as your other commenters below make reference! 

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