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Audit Finds Problems With State Purchasing Cards

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

A new audit is recommending that Florida’s health department move faster to cancel former employees’ access to state credit cards and to a statewide accounting system.

The state auditor general found that between March 2016 and January 2017, the Florida Department of Health failed to timely cancel so-called state purchasing cards for 119 former employees who worked at the agency or at county health departments.

After a closer review of 20 of those records, auditors found that it took the state an average of 48 business days after employees left their jobs for the state to cancel the purchasing cards. One purchasing card was active for 114 business days after the employee left.

Auditors also discovered 10 charges, totaling $1,175, incurred on three employees’ purchasing cards after they left their jobs but before the cards were canceled. The report noted that department management described the charges as “automatic” and said they were processed by department vendors.

The audit was conducted between March 2017 and December and focused on the Children’s Medical Services Managed Care Plan and the Bureau of Early Steps and Newborn Screening.

Auditors also examined the department’s controls for granting access to the Florida Accounting Information Resource, or FLAIR, the statewide accounting system.

Auditors examined FLAIR access records for 1,403 state and county health department employees with “update” privileges and found that for 232 user accounts, employees were granted update capabilities that were incompatible with their positions.

The department told auditors that it would close nine of the user accounts. Also, officials offered explanations for other findings by saying limited county health-department staffing necessitated that employees handle multiple roles or serve as backups to other employees.

Auditors also examined FLAIR access to employment records by state and county health-department workers who left their jobs between March 2016 and January 2017 and found the department failed to terminate the former employees’ access to the accounting system within one business day of leaving.

Further examination of records for 15 former employees showed that their access privileges remained active for an average of 27 business days after the employees left.

The audit also looked at the department’s administration of two grants knowns as the James and Esther King Biomedical Research Program and the Bankhead-Coley Cancer Research Program. The King program supports research to address health problems linked to tobacco-related cancer, cardiovascular disease, strokes and pulmonary disease, while the Bankhead-Coley program provides a source of funding to help try to find cures for cancer.

A state manual includes such things as policies and procedures for recipients of grants.

Auditors reviewed 10 grant agreements and determined that none of the recipients were given copies of the manual until after the grants were awarded and, in one instance, not until after the grant had expired.

The department, according to the audit, blamed the mistake on “employee oversight.”

A copy of the audit is here.