Audit says changes are needed for regional commissions

[private]A report released by the state auditor’s office has recommended some legislative changes that it said would make Georgia’s 12 regional commissions operate with more accountability and transparency.

There currently are 12 of these planning agencies — including the Atlanta Regional Commission – that help local governments coordinate their planning and land use as well as provide aging and transportation services.

In its most recent report, the Department of Audits and Accounting compiled a score card that compared and ranked the administrative operations of the 12 planning commissions.

“Each RC [regional commission] should have sufficient internal controls in place to ensure compliance with state law and accountability for use of public funds,” the report said. “Each RC should have sufficient travel and purchasing policies and procedures to ensure travel expenditures are reasonable and appropriate.”

The auditors noted that state regulations regarding travel, vehicle usage, and fleet management do not apply to these regional commissions, and recommended that the General Assembly extend these requirements.

“Extending these regulations and requirements would increase accountability and stewardship regarding RC [regional commission] expenditures of public funds, as well as decrease the potential for fraud and abuse,” the report said.

Each regional commission sets its own travel policy, and the policies reviewed by the auditors were found to be less restrictive than statewide travel regulations. Additionally, five of the six commissions reviewed in the last two years were not following their own policies for reimbursement and supervisory review of travel expenses.

“Requiring RCs to comply with the Statewide Travel Regulations would improve accountability and stewardship,” the audit report said.

In one example cited by the audit report, the executive directors of some regional commissions are reimbursed in “multiple ways” for their mileage expenses, which resulted in one director being “effectively reimbursed at $1.88 per mile versus the federal rate of $0.56 per mile.”

© 2015 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: audit report , regional commissions , state auditor