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SALT LAKE DISTRICT OFFICE
Audit Report No. 265
September 20, 1997
Executive SummaryIn April 1997, we performed an audit of administrative controls in the Salt Lake District Office (SLDO). We found that the SLDO's controls were generally functioning adequately. We are recommending certain improvements, as summarized below and described in the Audit Results section. The SLDO, in its attached comments, generally concurred with our findings and recommendations.
The SLDO should improve imprest fund procedures; use only one time and attendance log; store back-up computer tapes off-site; and enhance readiness for possible earthquakes, among other improvements.
Scope And Objectives
We reviewed the administrative controls of the Salt Lake District Office. Our objective was to determine whether the SLDO's controls were adequate and in compliance with Commission policies and procedures.
The controls we reviewed included those over travel, time and attendance, personnel, property inventory, and the imprest fund. We did not review budgeting, accounting, and purchasing since these functions generally are performed by the Central Regional Office for the SLDO. The audit steps included interviews with SLDO administrative staff and limited tests of SLDO records. Our review was performed in April 1997 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.
The district office located in Salt Lake City, Utah, has approximately fifteen staff, and provides support in carrying out Commission programs to the Central Regional Office in Denver, Colorado. The Central Regional Office performs certain functions for the SLDO, including budgeting, accounting, purchasing, and processing of personnel actions and travel vouchers. The Salt Lake District Office maintains personnel files, time and attendance records, travel vouchers, and property management records, and administers its transportation subsidy program.
We found that the Salt Lake District Office's administrative controls were generally functioning adequately, and operations were generally conducted in compliance with Commission policies and procedures. We are recommending certain enhancements, as discussed below.
The SLDO maintains a $100 imprest fund administered by a principal and alternate cashier. We performed a cash count and reviewed fund documentation and controls.
All cash was properly accounted for, and the cashiers were properly authorized. We noted certain possible improvements in operation of the fund to ensure its security, effectiveness, and compliance with Treasury and Commission regulations, as follows:
(1) With one exception, receipts were not stamped paid. The paid stamp is used to avoid duplicate payments.
(2) The principal and alternate cashiers use the same cash box. Because cashiers are personally liable for the funds assigned to them, separate cash boxes should be maintained.
(3) The cabinet used to secure the cash box is locked with just a key. To assure fund security, Treasury and Commission regulations recommend using a cabinet with a bar and combination lock.
(4) The cashier had an outdated (September 1984) version of imprest fund desk procedures. We provided the cashier with the latest (June 1993) version of Treasury regulations.
(5) The fund is only $100 and appears too small to support SLDO's needs.
(6) The principal and alternate cashier appear to need additional training.
The SLDO should stamp all receipts paid.
The SLDO should obtain separate cash boxes for the principal and alternate cashiers.
The SLDO should obtain a bar and combination lock for the cash box cabinet, or store the cash boxes in the SLDO's safe.
The SLDO should consider increasing the size of the imprest fund or else obtaining a government credit card.
The SLDO should provide additional training as appropriate to the principal and alternate cashier.
Time and Attendance
We reviewed 1997 time and attendance records for a judgment sample of six SLDO staff. The documentation was generally complete and accurate, and timekeepers do not sign their own reports (which would weaken controls).
We noted that the backs of sick leave slips were not being completed and that sign-in/out procedures were not consistently observed. During our review, the District Administrator issued a memorandum to SLDO employees addressing these issues.
We also noted that the SLDO uses separate logs for sign-in/out and flex time. Only one log is needed.
The SLDO should use one seriatim time and attendance log.
To test the completeness and accuracy of SLDO property records, we selected a judgment sample of ten items. We traced five items from the property records to the physical property, and five items of property to the records. All items were properly accounted for. Also, we noted that laptop computers and their related docking stations were adequately secured.
We selected a judgment sample of fifteen travel authorizations to verify the timeliness and accuracy of the related travel vouchers. One voucher had not yet been submitted, although the travel was completed several weeks before. The SEC's Travel Handbook (SECHDBK 17-1, November 1995) requires vouchers to be submitted within five days after completion of the trip.
The remaining vouchers were timely and accurate.
The SLDO should remind its staff to submit travel vouchers timely.
Backup Computer Tapes
The SLDO does not store its back-up computer tapes off-site. If a disaster occurred, the tapes could be destroyed, defeating the intent of maintaining them.
The SLDO should store computer tapes off-site (for example, at the Central Regional Office).
The SLDO's local area network (LAN) file server and communications equipment is located in an unlocked wire closet. To improve security, access to this equipment should be restricted.
The SLDO should install a lock on the wire closet door.
The Salt Lake City District Office (SLDO) is in an earthquake prone area (zone 3, on a scale from 0 to 4). We noted that the SLDO could take additional steps to reduce the hazards of a possible earthquake. For example, bookshelves could be secured to walls, staff could be trained in evacuation procedures, and a disaster assistant could be designated to ensure staff are vacated during emergencies.
The District Administrator indicated that the SLDO building has been approved by the General Services Administration (GSA). However, the Office of Administrative and Personnel Management, which leases Commission space, does not have documentation to verify the building's compliance with GSA's seismic safety standards.
The SLDO should take steps to reduce hazards from a possible earthquake.
The Office of Administrative and Personnel Management should maintain documentation confirming that Commission leased space in earthquake prone areas complies with GSA standards.