|Financial Audit Division Report 08-21||Released August 28, 2008|
The Department of Natural Resources did not adequately authorize, define, or control its involvement in the 2007 North American Wildlife Enforcement Officers Association conference (Finding 1). Rather, the department’s involvement was largely controlled by Enforcement Division employees and the Minnesota Conservation Officers Association, a private organization composed of Enforcement Division employees. The department implicitly authorized fundraising for the conference but did not control fundraising activities to ensure compliance with state law and department policy (Finding 2). The department incurred approximately $300,000 of inappropriate expenses for the conference (Finding 3) and did not follow state policies for some travel by its employees (Finding 4).
Our objective was to answer the following questions:
Our special review covered the time period from April 2004, when Minnesota Department of Natural Resources staff initiated the bid to host the conference, through January 2008 when the department made the final payments related to the conference.
On May 5, 2008, the StarTribune reported that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources had provided $196,000 to the 2007 North American Wildlife Enforcement Officers Association conference held in Saint Paul, Minnesota. In addition, the article alleged the department had committed $187,000 of staff resources, required over 200 employees to attend, provided lodging for some staff during the conference, and encouraged staff to solicit private donations for the event.