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3 golden objects Minnesota Legislature

Office of the Legislative Auditor - Financial Audit Division

Report Summary

Financial-Related Audit

Board of Public Defense

July 1, 1998, through June 30, 2001

Generally, the Board of Public Defense accurately reported payroll and grant expenditures in the accounting records and complied with applicable legal provisions and management's authorizations. As noted below, the board could make some improvements in its grant administration practices and in its processing and recording of other administrative expenditures.

Key Findings and Recommendations

The board could improve its grant administration. It was unable to obtain written grant agreements with Hennepin County for fiscal years 1999 through 2001. The board's grant agreements with other grantees did not contain certain standard clauses. Also, the board did not always make grant payments in compliance with applicable legal or grant agreement requirements. We recommended that the board establish a written grant agreement with Hennepin County, ensure that grant agreements contain standard provisions, and pay grantees in accordance with applicable grant agreement and legal provisions.

The board's accounting records for its administrative expenditures did not always reflect accurate financial activity. The board did not ensure that it paid obligations from the proper fiscal year's funds, or that it correctly classified expenditure transactions on the accounting system. We recommended that the board properly classify and record transactions on the accounting system.

The board needs to improve its purchasing and payment processes. The board did not follow its purchasing policy, which limits the use of field purchase orders and blanket purchase orders. The board did not always formally document payment approval before paying for goods and services and did not always have a contract in place before a contractor began providing services. The board did not pay some contractors in accordance with the contracts. Finally, the board did not make timely payments to vendors. We recommended that the board improve its purchasing and payment processes to avoid these types of errors.

The board did not adequately safeguard assets. The board did not accurately record fixed assets on the inventory system or perform a periodic physical inventory count. The board also did not adequately safeguard receipts. We recommended that the board record accurate and complete asset information on the inventory system and perform a periodic physical inventory count of fixed assets, and that the board promptly deposit receipts and place undeposited checks in a secure location.


The Board of Public Defense is a Judicial Branch agency that provides criminal defense services to indigent defendants in Minnesota. The Public Defender System is organized into three areas: the Board of Public Defense, the State Public Defender, and the District Public Defense. The Public Defense Board is primarily responsible for overseeing the state's public defender system. The board is also responsible for allocating funds to the state public defender, the ten district public defender operations, and five public defense corporations. Mr. John M. Stuart is the State Public Defender.

The Administrative Services Office provides administrative support to all three component areas. It has responsibility for the payroll and disbursement functions for the board, the State Public Defender's Office, and the district public defense offices.

Office of the Legislative Auditor, Room 140, 658 Cedar St., St. Paul, MN 55155 : or 651‑296‑4708