|Public Release Date: April 11, 1997||No. 97-18|
Article V of the State Constitution establishes the Office of the Governor as part of the executive branch of state government. The office operates under Minn. Stat. Chapter 4. The Governor and Lieutenant Governor are elected jointly for a four-year term, which begins the first Monday in January following the election. Governor Arne Carlson and Lieutenant Governor Joanne Benson were elected on November 8, 1994. This is the second term for Governor Carlson. The Office of the Governor received General Fund appropriations of approximately $3.5 million each year for fiscal years 1996 and 1997.
Our audit scope covered the time period from January 1, 1995, through December 31, 1996, and included a review of payroll, rent, membership fees, supplies and materials, communications, travel-related expenses, and reimbursements for use of the Governor's residence. For the transactions tested, the Office of the Governor accurately authorized, paid, accounted for, recorded, and retained proper documentation. For the transactions tested, a public purpose was documented for travel-related expenditures and the amounts seemed reasonable. In addition, the Office of the Governor accurately billed and deposited reimbursements for the use of the Governor's residence.
During our audit, some news organizations requested from the Governor's Office copies of all cellular telephone bills, including the telephone numbers of the calls placed. The Governor's Office refused to release the telephone numbers, citing data privacy concerns. This prompted the introduction of legislation that would make the cellular telephone records public data, similar to long-distance telephone records. As of the date of our audit report, the proposed legislation has not been enacted into law. Because of the attention on the office's cellular telephone bills, we reviewed the office's policy on use of cellular telephones and the process used to monitor cellular and long-distance telephone bills. We found that the office has a policy that prohibits personal use of long-distance and cellular telephone services. The Director of Office Operations told us that she closely monitors telephone bills and requires employees to certify that these billings pertain to state business. Other than a few reimbursements for personal use, we found no evidence that cellular telephones were being misused. We could not, however, determine whether the telephone calls did, in fact, serve a public purpose. Such a determination would require telephone users to document the purpose of and parties participating in each call. That amount of documentation would be extremely time consuming and onerous for the telephone users to create and for auditors to independently verify.