Oklahoma corrections officials misreported fund balances to governor

Oklahoma Department of Corrections officials grossly underreported to Gov. Mary Fallin the amount of cash held in two key agency funds as she was preparing her state budget recommendations for each of the past two years, documents obtained by The Oklahoman reveal.
by Randy Ellis Published: May 2, 2013

Oklahoma Department of Corrections officials grossly underreported the amount of cash held in two key agency funds to Gov. Mary Fallin as she was preparing her state budget recommendations for each of the past two years, documents obtained by The Oklahoman reveal.

It's “clear that the manner in which the DOC accounts for its funds needs to be more accurate, more transparent or both,” Fallin administration spokesman Alex Weintz said in a prepared statement Wednesday.

“The governor is not comfortable giving the agency more resources until it has thoroughly investigated these issues.”

Corrections officials reported to the governor that the agency had a balance of $7,452,758 in its main revolving fund and $615,250 in its Inmate and Employee Welfare Fund as of Dec. 28, 2011, records reveal.

However, financial records maintained by the state Office of Management and Enterprise Services show the agency had more than $12.3 million and $3.1 million, respectively, in those two accounts at the end of December 2011.

A year later, corrections officials reported to the governor that the agency had balances of $6,758,840 and $1,441,842 in the two accounts, while state Office of Management and Enterprise Services documents indicate the agency had more than $13.6 million in the main revolving fund and more than $3.7 million in the other fund at the end of December 2012.

The documents prepared by corrections officials understated by millions of dollars the amount of money the agency had available to meet various expenses without additional appropriations from the Legislature.

Justin Jones, director of the Corrections Department, was unavailable for comment Wednesday.

Asked about the discrepancies, Greg Sawyer, the corrections department's chief of business operations, said he was told by the agency's chief financial officer that the department had provided the governor with an “estimate of income to the fund” rather than providing cash balances.

“He (the chief financial officer) said there was confusion over what the OMES analyst said they wanted in the survey, so he gave them an estimate of the income,” Sawyer said in an email.

by Randy Ellis
Capitol Bureau Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
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