TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The agency overseeing the Florida lottery doesn't exactly have the winning ticket when it comes to keeping track of its taxpayer-funded property.
At least, that's the conclusion of a review conducted by the office of the state auditor general, David W. Martin.
Auditors used the Florida Department of the Lottery's own records, and determined that as of July 31, 2013, millions of dollars in public property purchased and used by the department was poorly accounted for. As a result, officials found it difficult to fully rely on DOL's inventory records to accurately account for purchased items.
Approximately 82 percent of department property in use and costing a minimum of $1,000 per item had either missing inventory dates or information that was more than 10 years old. The audit concluded DOL management's lack of oversight in this area "reduced assurance" that all property items were located during annual inventories.
That includes 178 vehicles costing more than $2.8 million due to missing vehicle identification numbers which are required by state rules. "Without the VIN, the department's property records may not contain sufficient detail to appropriately identify and account for department motor vehicles," the audit states.
Records also indicated 204 items originally costing $919,000 were lost or stolen. The department's response? DOL got rid of the items but failed to properly classify them when they did so. As a test, auditors traced documentation for four items listed lost or stolen and found three were wrongly labeled, though a computer turned up lost.
Property deemed "sensitive" or "attractive," such as electronic equipment, handguns and technology equipment, were not always specified properly in the department's records either.
Why does the Department of the Lottery buy handguns?
"The Florida Lottery Division of Security has 10 state law enforcement positions. Handguns are assigned to those officers. The Department has 22 handguns; the 10 sworn staff are assigned two handguns each. The department maintains two additional handguns in case they are required. The handguns are assigned to the officers for their official duties," Vega Kondrad, a public affairs specialist, told Watchdog.org in an email.
Kondrad didn't say whether there have been any instances in which the handguns were needed.
In all, department records showed 787 items were listed as sensitive or attractive. But a sample of 39 expenses made within a two-year period prior to July 2013 showed 20 items could have been considered sensitive or attractive, but were not included in the public property records, including two-way radios, scanners, an iPad Mini and a conference telephone.
Another 213 sensitive and attractive items were listed as lost or stolen. The department again said they were miscategorized.
In 2012, the Florida auditor general recommended DOL track all applicable costs for each of its lottery games, 47 at any given time, in a single accounting system. That system was supposed to go live in July 2012. A year later, the department had spent $1.5 million in consulting costs on the system, and as of February 2014 it remains in development.
The Florida Department of the Lottery took in $149 million from state coffers last year, and successfully delivered $1.4 billion in proceeds to a state educational trust fund.
DOL Secretary Cynthia F. O'Connell said in a response letter to Martin that she agreed with the audit's findings.