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Auditor to examine Public Safety

Auditor to examine Public Safety

November 28th, 2018 by Bob Watson in News

Col. Sandra Karsten, at left, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, whose retirement from that agency was announced the previous week, was named the director of the Department of Public Safety during a morning news conference Monday, Aug. 27, 2018, in Gov. Mike Parson's Capitol office.

Photo by Julie Smith /News Tribune.

State Auditor Nicole Galloway said Tuesday her office is ready to do "an independent audit of the administrative practices of the Department of Public Safety," after an internal review pointed to some issues involving how taxpayer dollars were spent.

Gov. Mike Parson said Tuesday he and current Public Safety Director Sandra Karsten asked for the state audit, following an Office of Administration review of the director's office records.

Parson noted Karsten asked for that review after she was named Public Safety director Aug. 27. The Missouri Senate confirmed her appointment Sept. 14.

In his letter to Galloway, Parson wrote: "The internal review raised concerns about questionable use of taxpayer dollars. Those concerns warranted her recommendation that the State Auditor conduct an independent review of DPS at the administrative level."

In a news release, the governor explained: "Anytime a department director raises concerns about questionable use of taxpayer dollars, we take them very seriously."

Karsten didn't provide any specifics about why she recommended the state audit, explaining in Parson's news release: "Our initial review raised concerns that warranted a more in-depth examination of past public safety administration practices. The previous state audit of the DPS Director's Office was completed nearly five years ago.

"A state audit is the appropriate next step to ensure the DPS Director's office is fulfilling its obligations to the people of Missouri."

In a 43-page report in December 2013, then-Auditor Thomas A. Schweich and his staff found the Public Safety director had not provided adequate planning and oversight of the Missouri Statewide Interoperability Network (or MOSWIN), a statewide public safety interoperable communications system.

Among its other findings, the 2013 audit also reported the Public Safety director's office did not:

Maintain adequate documentation of personnel costs that were charged to federal and state funding.

Issue pre-numbered receipt slips and did not always record or deposit monies promptly.

Segregate office duties adequately, nor have "sufficient" supervisory reviews.

Maintain complete and accurate records for capital assets, nor did it reconcile internal capital asset records to the state's SAM II system.

Lacked adequate controls and procedures to ensure disbursements for the Crime Victims Compensation Fund met the program's requirements.

However, neither Karsten nor Parson said Tuesday what connection — if any — the new investigation would find that coupled Karsten's new concerns with the 2013 audit findings.

Karsten's office told the News Tribune on Tuesday afternoon she couldn't "say anything beyond what's in the release."

Parson said: "Director Karsten is doing a great job leading DPS and has a clear understanding about the importance of keeping government accountable to the people of Missouri."

Parson named Karsten to the Public Safety post just nine days after announcing former Director Charles A. "Drew" Juden was stepping down Aug. 31.

Juden, former Gov. Eric Greitens' pick to head Public Safety, came to Jefferson City last year from Sikeston, where he most recently had been director of Sikeston's Department of Public Safety — and had been the focus of some complaints late last year, when he reported to then-Gov. Greitens about finding no problems in the operations of the St. Louis Veterans Home, while family members of some of the residents were telling then-Lt. Gov. Parson's office of major issues with those operations.

Parson said in August: "Drew is a well-accomplished public servant. We appreciate his time and service to the state of Missouri and wish him well in the future."

He also said in August: "Col. Karsten has a long track record of being a top-notch professional and an exemplary public servant. We are confident in her leadership during this transition."

Galloway said Tuesday: "As with any review, we will determine the scope of the audit to appropriately address any concerns brought forward throughout the process.

"I encourage anyone with information about questionable use of taxpayer dollars by the Department of Public Safety to contact my Whistleblower Hotline," which is 800-347-8597.

Citizens also can contact the State Auditor's Whistleblower Hotline at moaudit@auditor.mo.gov — or anonymously at auditor.mo.gov/hotline.