Audit Uncovers ARS Problems

A legislative audit uncovers 10 separate areas of concern, including the way employees are hired, how money is spent and a lack of record keeping.

It is just the latest negative news for Arkansas Rehabilitation Services, a division of the Department of Career Education.

Most audits find some mistakes.

But a closer look at how ARS has been operating uncovered more problems than the usual audit.

Legislators were presented with a host of problems within ARS, including a lack of record keeping, a lack of training, a lack of adherence to state policies and procedures, and a lack of leadership.

"If you have been in state government any length of time that youthere are rules and there are procedures that you follow," says state representative Kim Hammer, a republican from Benton. "And I think when you look at the leadership also you need to know that leadership has been around long enough to know better also."

Commissioner Robert Trevino and CFO Joe Baxter answered questions as their boss, agency director Bill Walker, sat in the gallery.

Auditors found that travel logs weren't being kept on four out of every ten ARS state vehicles.

Travel reimbursement requests exceeded limits or lacked supporting documentation.

People were hired at ARS without going through the required interview process and without jobs being posted.

Major purchases were made without getting bids, client payments and grants were not properly recorded, and employee loans were issued and not repaid.

"I don't object to the motion to look at it further and give the members more opportunity to digest it," says democrat senator Randy Laverty of Jasper. "And I think that is what we did."

And late this afternoon we learned that Commissioner Trevino has been reassigned to Associate Director for Program Planning in a move unrelated to the audit or today's hearing.

Air date: Sept. 14th, 2012