Past Audit Reveals Problems With OK County Sheriff's Office Expenditures

Thursday, March 10th 2016, 6:52 pm
By: News 9

News 9 requested and received a copy of the 2015 fiscal year audit of Oklahoma County done by the State Auditor and Inspector's Office.

It identifies certain deficiencies in internal control that they consider to be significant.

Their first finding has to do with inadequate internal controls at the Oklahoma County Sheriff's office regarding medical expenses incurred for inmates. The Board of County Commissioners approved to enter into a contract with “Inmate Medical Care” for those services.

But the audit states throughout the fiscal year, the sheriff's office did not obtain purchase orders and did not follow state purchasing procedures. As a result, 11 invoices totaling more than $3 million were not submitted for payment and were not properly recorded.

3/9/16 Related Story: District Attorney Requests Investigative Audit of Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office

Last year, Inmate Medical Care filed a lawsuit against the Board of County Commissioners in the amount of 3.3 million dollars for breach of contract.

The next audit finding had to do with the sheriff's office internal controls for payroll. The audit found each department submits a monthly payroll claim; however, controls are not in place to verify the accuracy of payroll calculations that have been submitted by the individual department - and that no controls are in place to check accuracy of leave balances submitted for payment. 

The audit states the County Clerk addressed those concerns by implementing a new computer system to track payroll and employee leave that took effect January 2016.

Thursday evening, a spokesperson for the sheriff's office informed News 9 that the finding in the audit did not have anything to do with the sheriff's office internal control for payroll, stating they have a separate system to do that.

"We use a system called Kronos to track that," said Mark Opgrande with the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office. "The finding called for the County Clerk to respond, and not the Sheriff's office. The county responded by implementing a system called Munis which tracks payroll to satisfy the audit."

Last week, employees at the sheriff’s office received an e-mail about possible changes and reassignments including the elimination or reduction of services, expense reduction and the elimination of some jobs. In it, Sheriff Whetsel mentions the $3 million budget hole - and adds they now face an additional million dollars in cuts that could lead to the elimination of 20 positions, or transferred to jail operations. 

But in a statement sent to News 9, the sheriff states no decision has been made at this time.

A spokesperson for the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office states they are losing almost $50,000 a month because of a new law regarding housing costs for the Department of Corrections inmates.

A provision in the law requires the sheriff’s office to pay for the cost of housing a DOC inmate if judgment and sentence is not presented to the DOC within three business days. The sheriff’s office is asking the Attorney General to look into the matter.

There is also a separate hearing in Oklahoma County Court Friday afternoon to address daily jail rates of inmates.