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Archive for Saturday, August 12, 2000

Audits examine travel expenses

August 12, 2000

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— Audits of out-of-state travel by state employees and lawmakers didn't raise any eyebrows among members of a legislative committee that reviewed the matter Friday.

Auditors reported their findings to the Legislative Post Audit Committee, which requested the audits in December. Legislative interest was sparked by the out-of-state travel of then-Aging Secretary Thelma Hunter Gordon and a consulting agreement between her and a former deputy secretary.

Gordon resigned Nov. 1 at the request of Gov. Bill Graves, who ordered that the consulting agreement be canceled.

The audits looked at the $16.6 million in out-of-state travel during fiscal year 1999, which ended June 30, 1999.

One audit reviewed a sample of 241 out-of-state trips by state employees and found 46 included at least one questionable expense. However, those expenses accounted for only 4 percent of the dollars under review.

The Department on Aging accounted for 12 of the 46 trips and 45 percent of the $11,800 that auditors questioned.

The audit said Gordon incurred $460 in unnecessary hotel and meal expenses by staying two extra days while attending a conference in Honolulu. It said Gordon repaid the department $3,279 for questionable expenses related to trips.

Sen. Pat Ranson, R-Wichita, noted the department accounted for many of the problems and said overall the state had done a "very good job on travel expenses."

Another audit took a look at 40 out-of-state trips taken by legislators and their staff for a total of $52,120. The audit raised questions about 18 of the trips.

However, in a written response, Jeff Russell, director of Legislative Administrative Services, said an extra night of lodging sometimes is allowed to save on airfare.

He also said legislators often have to arrive early to attend meetings before a conference.

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