Parks department audit finds two decades of accounting discrepancies
The California parks department had accounting problems for longer than previously revealed, according to an audit from Gov. Jerry Brown's Department of Finance.
The audit report found that department officials were inaccurately reporting the balances held in two accounts since 1993. That's about a decade longer than finance officials identified this summer, when it was revealed that parks had a hidden surplus of $54 million in two accounts.
The controller's office, which signs the state's checks, was getting correct information, but the Department of Finance, which puts together the state budget, was not. Finance officials were not comparing the two sets of data until this year.
Parks officials were "intentionally under-reporting fund balances to Finance for development of the governor’s budget," the audit said. The audit did not place blame for the discrepancy or explain why the funds were being inaccurately reported.
Finance officials said the audit did not find any additional hidden money in the two accounts. In a written response to the audit, parks officials said they have increased internal oversight of their budget.
The audit is the second review this week to find accounting problems in the department. On Tuesday, the controller's office said payroll policies weren't being followed and some employees may have been getting paid more than they should.
Two more reviews are still underway, one from the state auditor and one from the attorney general's office.
-- Chris Megerian in Sacramento
Photo: Jack Baffa, 4, plays at McGrath State Beach near Oxnard, one of the parks that had been threatened with closure before a hidden parks department surplus was discovered. Credit: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times