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Audit finds financial errors at Rehabilitation Services

LITTLE ROCK — Officials with Arkansas Rehabilitation Services were questioned Friday by lawmakers after a state audit revealed a number of problems, including documentation errors and that an employee on leave without pay received $20,431 in pay and benefits.

“We accept the report of the audit findings,” Robert Trevino, director of Rehabilitation Services, told members of the Legislative Joint Auditing Committee, adding that they have put corrective actions in place to ensure compliance.

The agency is a division of the state Department of Career Education.

Sen. Randy Laverty, D-Jasper, noted the number of deficiencies found in the audit — there were 10 — and asked Chris Caldwell, a deputy auditor, whether the deficiencies appeared to be accidental or deliberate.

“Is there any evidence that anything was done fraudulently?” he asked.

Caldwell said none of the mistakes appeared to be fraudulent. He said auditors opted to mention all of the findings to show lawmakers “that there are a lot of areas within the agency that have deficiencies throughout.”

“It was like everything we picked up had something deficient, so … overall that agency was having problems, so that’s why we did as much as we did to show the total picture,” he said.

Rep. Kim Hammer, R-Benton, asked Trevino about the employee being paid while on leave without pay.

“Who authorized the leave for the employee that went beyond the acceptable amounts that has cost the state $20,400?” Hammer asked. “Did somebody above the normal supervisor sign off on that?”

Trevino said he signed off on the employee’s original application for leave, but after that the monitoring of the person’s leave was the responsibility of human resources and the employee’s immediate supervisor.

The audit found that the employee’s immediate supervisor was not always the person assigned to approve the time reported in the state computer and that four leave requests totaling 90 hours were not recorded. In one case, leave was recorded in the state computer but the actual request was not kept.

Trevino told the committee that the agency is working to retrieve the money from the employee, who has since left the agency. He also said the agency has implemented new procedures for processing time sheets.

Among other audit findings, the agency improperly recorded payables and receivables, some purchasing procedures were not followed and bid were not taken on some purchases, including $77,000 worth of furniture.

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