Some local governments in Maryland are having difficulty preparing adequate financial statements and getting passing grades from their outside auditors, state auditors found in an annual review of local audit practices for the fiscal year ending June 2013.
But the report found that the City of Baltimore’s financial statements are improving, and it also stated the overall financial condition of three cities, including Cumberland, is improving.
Some local governments in Maryland are having difficulty preparing adequate financial statements and getting good audit results, state auditors found.
The Office of Legislative Audits found five governments failed to obtain audits, and 64 instances of defective accountability. either in accounting or auditing. The high number of problems indicates substantial room for improving financial accountability in Maryland’s counties, cities and towns.
An outside audit of how the state of Maryland spent almost $13 billion it got from the U.S. government found significant problems in some of the programs the state runs with federal dollars. These include eligibility problems with recipients of Medicaid and welfare.
The Maryland Military Department continued to dole out $5.2 million to support fire services in11 local jurisdictions even though they did meet requirements for matching local funding, according to a state audit. The audit report released last week also found misuse of state credit cards amounting to $107,493 that caused the firing of an employee.
One department at the University of Maryland Baltimore was found to have misused state-issued credit cards to dodge purchasing rules, and four people were using two credit cards issued to only two people, according to state auditors.
An audit report released Monday said purchases made on these two corporate purchasing cards, which had monthly limits of $400,000 or more, "were artificially split in order to bypass formal procurement policies," which generally require competitive bids for purchases over $5,000.
State senators on a budget subcommittee said that they were dismayed by the abysmal results of the state’s most recent audit of its Department of Human Resources, which distributes welfare, foster care, and other social services to needy Marylanders.
Its 2012 audit revealed hundreds of financial and ethical improprieties committed by state social workers between 2008 and 2011, including 77 repeat findings of mistakes that were discovered by auditors five years earlier.
The Maryland Labor Department’s Division of Unemployment Insurance overpaid millions in benefits to people who were actually working and shelled out unemployment benefits to people who were dead or in prison. The division also certified job stimulus tax credits for employers hiring the unemployed for some workers who weren’t actually receiving unemployment benefits.
The Executive Department and governor’s office had missing computer equipment, improper handling of cash receipts and unreliable inventory records, state auditors found, and some of the problems had been uncovered in previous audits.
The Housing and Community Development Department filed reports on escrow accounts six months late and $194,000 supposed to go to housing was sent to the wrong state agency by a bank without efforts to recover it, state auditors found. Similar audits in past years had found the same problems with the escrow accounts.
When it comes to finding waste, fraud and abuse -- or just plain old carelessness -- within Maryland government, no agency does more than the Office of Legislative Audits – mainly because it’s their job.
Bruce Myers, 61, has headed the office for the last 15 years and was the deputy legislative auditor for 10 years before that. On Friday, he retired after 35 years of producing hundreds of audits that have generated familiar headlines over the years.