Findings: Material Weakness 7-2014 Significant Deficiency
Criteria: The County has established procedures for purchases in excess of $50,000 and specifically regarding sole source items that my be purchased without competitive procurement, but must have approval of both the Commissioners Court nod the County Purchasing Officer. The $50,000 competitive procurement amount is set by the State Legislature.
Condition: One instance was noted of a purchase in excess of $50,000 for a sole source item that was not approved for payment by Commissioners Court.
Context: In a review of material purchases it was noted a check in the amount of $51.731 was not approved in Commissioner Court. While this expenditure was from a sole source item and did not require a competitive bid it still was subject to the policy and procedures as established by the County in their purchasing policy (and by State Law).
Cause: An override of the established control by the County for purchases in excess of $50,000 for a sole source item (and also a violation of State Law) was made by not gaining approval for the purchase through Commissioners Court.
Effect: Unapproved expenditures that are material in nature can be made that could adversely affect the cash flow of the County.
Recommendation: An established set of spending limits per department head should be established that would require and individual to seek a higher level of approval before a (any) purchase is made. Ideally, checks in excess of $50,000 should be required to have the County Judge's signature as evidence they have been approved in Commissioners Court.
(In this instance the Sheriff's Office, without approval and off-budget, purchasing a crime-fighting software program called CopSync. The fact that the purchase totaled over $50,000 makes it a violation of State Law, regardless of County policy. If it had been less, however, it would not have been illegal, but would have still been in violation of the County's written purchasing policy. The former treasurer was notorious for cutting checks demanded by the Sheriff's Office without authorization. This has ceased under the current leadership, but will likely be an issue for the 2015 audit as the first quarter of FY 2015 was Oct 1 2014- Dec 31 2015 and nothing had yet changed. It has been relayed to me that the Sheriff's Office was trying to find a way for Stonegarden grant funding to pay for this, but that was prohibited. Either way, the purchase was illegal.)