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Elk Restoration Project Way Over Budget

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AFP/Getty/ Don Emmert

AFP/Getty/ Don Emmert

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMOX) -   State Auditor Tom Schweich today released the audit of the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC).   In the areas audited, the overall performance of this entity was labeled “good.”

However Schweich pointed out the elk restoration budget with an estimated cost of $411,185 to reintroduce elk to the state did not include costs for several items, such as salaried employees, habitat improvements, or long-term monitoring.  As of June 30, 2011 the MDC had spent more than $1.23 million to reintroduce just 39 elk, spending three times more to reintroduce about one-fourth as many elk as planned.  Moreover, the MDC executive staff and the commission discussed the elk restoration project in closed sessions in January, April and May 2010 in apparent violation of the Sunshine Law.

The MDC did not have area management plans for 59 percent of applicable conservation areas and accesses. A prior audit noted that the MDC had not made it a priority to develop and update such plans.

Schweich says the MDC really needs to improve internal controls over procurement cards.  On several occasions, MDC employees split transactions to avoid transaction limits or bidding requirements.  The MDC agreed to pay a retired former employee at least $155,000 to write a book about Missouri rivers and streams.  The MDC did not solicit bids or document its reasons for this sole source procurement.

 To view the complete report, Citizens Summary and audit rating scale, visit: http://auditor.mo.gov/press/2011-120.htm

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