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Audit ranks governor's office as 'fair,' cites continuing use of funds from other agencies

Missouri Governor Mansion

An audit of the Missouri governor's office finds that Gov. Jay Nixon is still using money from other state agencies to cover some expenses from his office, despite prohibitions by lawmakers from doing so.

For the past four years, the Republican-controlled House and Senate have added language to the state budget forbidding the governor's office from shifting funds from most state agencies to his office, with the exception of the Department of Public Safety. Deputy Auditor Harry Otto says Nixon, a Democrat, has been violating that provision regularly.

"The total is in the area of $1.9 million over a three-year period," Otto said, "and of that, about $948,000 is (for) personnel."

Otto says six employees within the governor's office were paid with funding from other state agencies and added that numerous other expenses from the governor’s office are also being billed to other agencies:

"Like, the National Governors Association, the Southern Governors Association dues aren't being picked up by the governor's office," Otto said. "They're being charged to Economic Development, or Health and Senior Services, or other areas that aren't appropriate."

Acting Auditor John Watson removed himself from the audit, as he had worked with the governor from the time Jay Nixon was attorney general until earlier this year. Harry J. Otto, deputy state auditor, oversaw the audit, giving the governor's office a "fair" rating, on a scale that runs "excellent," "good," "fair" and "poor."

Other criticisms of the governor's office included:

  • Not having an employee manual and not requiring performance appraisals.
  • Not performing cost comparisons on travel, including the use of a state plane vs. commercial flights.
  • Not having complete, accurate capital asset records, including a physical inventory of the mansion.

The audit also criticized emergency expenditures of the Missouri National Guard for problems with documentation.
The responses from the governor’s office were broadly stated. For example, after the section that dealt with using funds from other agencies, the governor's office responded: "The office accounts for its operational costs in a manner that properly reflects the nature of the work it performs."

Following recommendations for performance appraisals, development of an employee manual and more standardized pay increases, the governor's office said, "The office acknowledges this recommendation."

The full audit report can be viewed here.

Follow Donna Korando and Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @DonnaKorando  @MarshallGReport

Donna Korando started work in journalism at SIU’s Daily Egyptian in 1968. In between Carbondale and St. Louis Public Radio, she taught high school in Manitowoc, Wis., and worked at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the copy editor and letters editor for the editorial page from 1973-77. As an editorial writer from 1977-87, she covered Illinois and city politics, education, agriculture, family issues and sub-Saharan Africa. When she was editor of the Commentary Page from 1987-2003, the page won several awards from the Association of Opinion Page Editors. From 2003-07, she headed the features copy desk.
Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.

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