Report includes findings regarding 2016 separation agreement; employee comp time, travel

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway released her report on the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), which received an overall rating of fair.

"Missouri is well-known across the nation for premier outdoor opportunities, making the work of the Department of Conservation an important part of our economy," Galloway said. "It's crucial that officials ensure every dollar spent has value for Missouri taxpayers by supporting their mission."

The audit includes the details of a separation agreement that resulted in more than $120,000 in additional benefits to the former director after he resigned on July 15, 2016. The former director was paid for compensatory (comp) time earned during his 20 years of employment, plus annual leave, holiday pay, insurance premiums and other benefits earned after resignation. The audit found no documentation to support the purpose or need for the agreement.

The report also recommended changes to the department's comp time policies. Contrary to policies in most state agencies, top level supervisory and managerial staff at the Department of Conservation are able to earn comp time, including the director and deputy directors. There are also no limits on some comp time earned or accrued by employees. As of June 30, 2017, the MDC had a liability of $2.4 million for the largest type of comp time. Department policy does not require payment for all the accrued comp time hours upon termination, but in all cases, the department is liable for any hours used as leave time during employment.

Previous audit reports questioned use of state aircraft. While the department has discontinued the practice of using charter flights for commission-related business, the report includes recommendations that officials reevaluate using the state plane in certain circumstances. The audit included another repeat finding from the previous audit questioning the lack of meal limits for employees when traveling.

The full report on the Department of Conservation can be found here.