The State Auditor has given high marks in his office’s review of the Department of Agriculture.
“It’s probably the best audit we’ve given of a state agency since I’ve been auditor,” Tom Schweich told Missourinet.
His office’s report rates the overall performance of the Department as “good.”
“There were some areas that need improvement, but in a department as large as that with a couple hundred employees and a lot of responsibility across the state, these were relatively minor findings,” said Schweich.
Among what the audit did find was that the Department provided “significant” salary increases to six employees in the past two fiscal years, ranging from 6 to 30 percent for those employees, and increasing annual staff salaries by $51,864. The Department said the increases were based on additional job responsibilities and said it will document future adjustments made based on job duties or classifications.
The audit also found that some program fees in the Department do not cover the costs of those programs, causing them to need more appropriations from General Revenue.
“They’re supposed to be self-sustaining programs and they’re not,” said Schweich.
The report recommends a periodic analysis of fees and expenditures for all fee-funded programs and consideration of adjustment of fees where possible, which the Department says it will undertake.
“We think that either the programs should be scaled back,” said Schweich. “I don’t really like to increase fees on farmers but that would be the other option.”
The audit also found that the Department’s Weights, Measures and Consumer Protection Division failed to inspect some grain moisture meters and scales and petroleum devices as required by law, that its Wine and Grape Board’s annual reports don’t provide information on expenditures made during the year, and that it has not filled positions on boards and commissions in a timely manner and has some members on those boards and commissions beyond their terms’ expiration dates.
Schweich says none of those were “serious findings.”
“I think it’s important to point out when government is working well, and I think the Department of Agriculture is a well-run organization. They were very receptive to our relatively minor criticisms. They intend to correct those programs, and this shows how an auditor and an auditee can work well together, can improve an already good organization, and provide value to the taxpayer,” said Schweich.
See the full audit report here.