State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) announced that the Auditor’s office has completed his two-year property audit of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board with perfect results.
ABC had 4,028 items of state-owned property valued at $12.6 million. All of which was accounted for.
State Auditor Jim Zeigler presented a Certificate of Perfect Audit to ABC Executive Director Mac Gipson and Property Manager Kenneth Osborne.
“If this were not my office doing the inventory, I would almost be incredulous,” Zeigler joked. “It is simply amazing that all four thousand items under the care of ABC were present and accounted for.”
“If every agency did a perfect job with their property inventory, my job would be a lot easier,” Zeigler said. “In fact, it every agency did this well, somebody would want to abolish my office,” Zeigler joked.
The State Auditor is responsible for property inventory of each item of state property valued at $500 or more. There are 176 state agencies which the state auditor inventories every two years.
Zeigler said of the ABC warehouse, “You are looking at $30 million of booze. They have strict inventory controls, which is an absolute necessity in dealing with alcohol.”
The Auditor’s office also recently awarded a perfect audit certificate to Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall (R).
Not every agency is as well managed as the ABC Board or the Attorney General’s office.
Last month, Zeigler (R) announced that state agencies are “lost” almost $200,000 in state property over the summer, according to the auditor’s latest report. Zeigler’s September 5 report cited stolen computers and wrecked state vehicles atop the list of losses.
“The total loss to the state, and thus to taxpayers, was $199,689.01 from 81 assets with a depreciated value of $108,345.50 due to the age of some of the items, Zeigler said.”
Forty items, half of the losses, were categorized as lost which means that no one knew where these items were or what happened to them.
Zeigler called the losses, “Unacceptable.”
“One of our biggest problems is that not all agencies hold employees accountable for missing items,” Zeigler said. “Items reported as stolen require a police report. For all items, whether stolen, lost or destroyed, the agency director must decide whether negligence was involved on the part of the responsible employee. When agency directors deem negligence is involved, they are required to seek repayment from the employee. However, if the employee is no longer employed with the state, there is no recourse for restitution.”
“The way current law is written, when the Auditor’s Office finalizes a property audit and there are assets reported as lost, stolen or destroyed, a report is sent to the Attorney General’s Office to investigate further,” Zeigler said. “Responses from the AG’s Office usually state that the dollar amount of the losses isn’t great enough to offset the cost associated with investigation and recovery to the state, so no further action is taken. Once my office completes an audit, I have no enforcement powers.”
Zeigler says that he may ask a legislator to introduce a bill in the 2019 regular legislative session to give enforcement powers of the state audits to the State Auditor rather than another agency.
While the State Auditor is a constitutional position created by Alabama’s 1901 Constitution, the legislature removed the auditing powers from the Auditor’s office during the 1930s. That function is now handled by the Examiner of Public Accounts, which answers directly to the legislature. The Auditor is responsible for doing property inventories for state government.
Jim Zeigler is seeking re-election in the November 6 general election. Miranda Karrine Joseph is the Democratic Party nominee for the office.
Many conservatives favor the state getting out of the selling alcohol business and favor selling off the ABC stores and warehouse. Legislation to do that has failed to advance due to the concern that the state could potentially lose revenue from privatization.