|Public Release Date: July 23, 1999||No. 99-38|
Article V of the State Constitution established the Office of the Governor as part of the executive branch of state government. 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 and sworn into office on January 9, 1995. This was the second term for Governor Carlson. Governor Jesse Ventura and Lieutenant Governor Mae Schunk were elected on November 10, 1998 and sworn into office on January 4, 1999. The Office of the Governor received annual General Fund appropriations of approximately $3.8 million for fiscal years 1998 and 1999.
By Legislative Audit Commission policy, the Office of the Legislative Auditor audits the constitutional offices twice during each term. This audit focused on the financial activities during the second half of the Governor Carlson administration. Our audit scope included a review of payroll, travel, rent, membership dues, supplies and equipment, and reimbursements for use of the Governor's residence for the period from January 1, 1997, through December 31, 1998.
The audit found that the Office of the Governor designed and implemented internal controls to provide reasonable assurance that payroll, travel, and supplies and equipment were properly paid, authorized and recorded, and complied with applicable finance-related legal provisions. However, we questioned $407 paid to certain employees who were reimbursed for meals they were not eligible for. We also found that the office did not always properly plan or document out-of-state travel. Finally, the office did not retain the events log identifying all public and non-state functions at the Governor's residence. Without such documentation, the office cannot ensure it billed out all non-state events for the use of the Governor's residence.
The audit also found that transition funds provided by Governor Carlson's office and the Department of Administration to Governor-elect Ventura were used appropriately and properly recorded in the accounting system. Donations solicited by Governor-elect Ventura were subsequently determined to be unneeded and properly returned to the donors.
In a written response, a representative of former Governor Carlson indicated that they agreed with the report's findings. They felt the issues identify certain policy concerns that should be addressed for the benefit of future administrations. In a separate response, the Governor Ventura administration agreed to provide improved controls that will remedy the concerns identified.