Audit Finds Waste and Abuse of County Credit Cards in Stanislaus

Without proper oversight, county credit cards can be dangerous. That fact has been highlighted by a new audit of purchasing cards in Stanislaus County, which uncovered some truly irresponsible and inexcusable behavior on the part of county staff that cost taxpayers dearly.

In one of the most egregious incidents, a sheriff’s department employee who parked his vehicle at an airport for 79 days incurred $790 in parking fees. The county’s Auditor-Controller has since recommended a change in procedures at the department, plus reimbursement from the employee for part of the time he spent parked there.

It wasn’t just the sheriff’s department. The Community Services Agency used the cards to fly two employees to Phoenix for an event that was actually in Albuquerque, N.M. (Oops!) Correcting the mistake cost an extra $1,042.40.

In four instances, county employees used their purchasing cards for up to $1,969 in personal expenses, the audit found. The county was reimbursed. Four other transactions amounting to $64,698 had no appropriate paper trail to accompany them.

“The significant findings primarily consisted of departments and agencies lacking sufficient procedures and controls, in some cases, to monitor the appropriateness of the purchasing card transactions,” according to the Audit-Controller’s report. That needs to change. 

Seventeen of the county’s 32 departments and agencies that use purchasing cards were reviewed for the probe. The audits looked at a total of 2,707 transactions worth $942,278 for the 2015-16 budget year.


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