|Public Release Date: April 24, 1998||No. 98-24|
The Public Utilities Commission is a regulatory agency with jurisdiction over Minnesota's natural gas, electric, and telecommunications utilities. The commission consists of five commissioners appointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate. Commissioners are appointed to six-year terms. Burl Haar has served as the executive secretary of the commission since December 1993.
We audited the following financial activities of the commission for the two years ended June 30, 1997: telephone and utility assessments and ground current studies, revenues and expenditures of the telephone assistance plan and administrative hearing judges, and employee payroll and other administrative costs. Our audit objectives included reviewing internal controls over material financial activities of the commission and determining compliance with significant laws and regulations.
The commission appropriately set and collected fees for services performed for the assessments, ground current studies, telephone assistance plan, and administrative hearing judges, for the items tested. The commission designed controls to provide reasonable assurance that receipts were safeguarded and properly recorded in the state's accounting system. However, the commission needs to follow up on discrepancies in telephone assistance plan revenues.
The commission processed the telephone assistance plan, administrative hearing judges, payroll, and administrative expenditures in accordance with applicable laws and regulations for the items tested, except that the commission should develop a method of verifying the propriety of telephone assistance plan payments. Expenditures were accurately recorded in the state's accounting system. The commission had an inadequate separation of duties, however, over both payroll and personnel transactions. Additionally, the commission did not adequately monitor third party travel reimbursements.
In its response to the audit report, the commission indicated its agreement with the findings and recommendations and has developed a corrective action plan.