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Boxes Of Unused Furniture Sitting In State Surplus

Updated: Wednesday, January 8 2014, 03:28 PM CST

Boxes of state agency furniture are now sitting in state surplus. It's your tax dollars at work, and it's got some outraged on what they describe as wasteful government spending.

The Texas State Auditor's Office dug through the Office of the Fire Fighters' Pension Commissioner.

It's an office state legislators abolished in August of last year.

While the audit report at first glance didn't seem too troubling, a deeper look uncovered several significant deficiencies within the agency.

"Government seems to be spending money just because they have it," said Texas Director of Americans for Prosperity Peggy Venable. "Taxpayers would never act like that and taxpayers should be outraged."

According to the audit, management exercised an attitude of "use it or lose it" with regards to unspent budgetary funds at the end of the fiscal year. It says management placed two orders for new executive and staff office furniture, to use the office's remaining budget funds rather than allow those unspent budget funds to lapse. The executive furniture was received, invoiced, and paid for in fiscal year 2013. However, due to size restraints, the office placed that furniture into storage upon receipt.

"If the dollars aren't needed, and I don't mean just used but needed by a state agency, then it should not be spent," said Venable.

Auditors found that the office surplused most of its existing furniture in September 2012 in anticipation of receiving the new furniture. Because the new furniture was never received or was too large to be used, the office continued to use folding tables as temporary work stations to replace the surplused items.

It also showed that office management tried to override controls in order to grant a recent retiree additional leave hours that included an unsupported recalculation of sick leave. Auditors wrote to accomplish that the office made two attempts to enter the additional hours into the statewide payroll/personnel system.

Just a few months ago the agency's responsibilities were shifted to the Texas Emergency Services Retirement System, a separate agency.

In response to the audit the new management wrote:

"We are in agreement with the finding. Nearly all of the deficiencies in controls that led to the identified issues have been cured and the few that haven't will be accomplished by January 31, 2014. The Trustees of the Texas Emergency Services Retirement System are committed to a control environment that safeguards the integrity of financial reporting and operations, as is the newly hired Executive Director. The identified weaknesses were apparent to new management upon arrival, who immediately began steps to establish procedures and controls."

There were no dollar amounts for anything.

KEYE TV put in a public information request for the information.

We'll update you as soon as we get it.

By Adam Racusin

Boxes Of Unused Furniture Sitting In State Surplus



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