|Public Release Date: October 4, 1996||No. 96-41|
The Legislature created the Office of Environmental Assistance on July 1, 1994, by combining the personnel, powers, and duties of the Office of Waste Management with the Metropolitan Council's Solid and Hazardous Waste Management Division. The mission of the office is to protect Minnesota's environment and assure a sustainable economy through waste prevention and resource conservation. The Minnesota Waste Management Act, Minn. Stat. Chapter 115A, drives the office's mission and activities. The Office of Environmental Assistance provides its customers with technical and financial assistance to help reduce waste and better manage waste. The office disburses more than $14 million annually in grants to local governments.
Operations of the Office of Environmental Assistance are funded with state appropriations from the General Fund and Environmental Fund. In addition, the office received revenue from the Metropolitan Landfill Abatement Account and some federal grants. The office also was responsible for the collection of pollution prevention fees.
Our audit scope was for the period July 1, 1994 though June 30, 1996. We reviewed sources of funds including appropriations and fee receipts. We also reviewed the uses of funds including grant disbursements, agency payroll, and other administrative expenditures during the audit period.
Generally, we determined the Office of Environmental Assistance conducted its operations in a reasonable and prudent manner. The office had adequate controls established, except we noted some employees had access to systems that were not compatible with their normal duties. We found the Office of Environmental Assistance materially complied with Minnesota statutes, laws, and rules in its budgeting and distribution of funds, except not depositing funds timely in accordance with Minn. Stat. Section 16A.275. We also questioned the office's authority to disburse SCORE grant funds withheld under Minn. Stat. Section 115A.557.