State auditor Tom Schweich questions the Highway Patrol’s purchase of a new airplane last winter, its vehicle safety inspection program,. and the way it accounts for its property.  But it’s the airplane that has caused the most political stir at the Capitol and is the biggest point of contention between the Auditor at the Patrol.,

The Highway Patrol agrees with Schweich’s findings in most places—but sharply disagrees that its purchase of a $5.6-million airplane was a waste of money. Schweich says the state airplane fleet supervised by the Patrol already was under-utilized before the plane purchase, which produced partisan criticism from the Republican-dominated legislature.

The audit says the Patrol did not perform a written analysis to justify the purchase. But the patrol says it did thoroughly analyze the “needs and usage” before making the deal.  Schweich’s audit says there were only 58 days in 2012 when both of the pressurized-cabin plans flew on the same day and 159 days on which neither plane took to the effort, including 113 days when none of the five planes took off. 

The Patrol says it has received “numerous” requests from “multiple agencies” for flights on the same day and has not been able to meet those requests. 

Schweich says the patrol has taken seriously concerns from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about school bus inspections, but he thinks it needs to do a better job of inspecting the people who do the inspections of buses and cars and trucks.

He will send his auditors back out in two or three months to see if the Patrol has improved the things he recommends be improved.  The Patrol says most  of the problems pinpointed by the auditors were taken care of months ago, while the audit was still in process.


AUDIO: Capt. Tim Hull interview 8:42