DENVER – The Denver Police Department is doing a generally good job managing its High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas grant funds, but there are some smaller bookkeeping essentials the department needs to clean up, according to a recent audit from Denver Auditor Timothy M. O’Brien, CPA.
This grant audit is the newest in a series of grant audits launched by the Auditor’s Office. While dollar amounts might be small compared to the police department’s overall budget, failure to comply with federal grant requirements could result in a loss of the grant funds.
High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas are established by the federal government to coordinate federal, state, and local law enforcement. The goal is to stop large-scale drug-trafficking operations across the country. The Denver Police Department leads the Front Range Task Force as part of the Rocky Mountain region. The task force serves Denver, Adams, Arapahoe, Jefferson, and Douglas counties.
Our audit found gaps in compliance regarding four expenditure categories related to equipment, investigative overtime, the purchase of confidential information and evidence, and travel.
“We found existing policies in place to address every area of concern,” Auditor O’Brien said. “But, in practice, the officers were not following all of those policies.”
We found the task force needs better safeguards for tracking and maintaining equipment used as part of the grant program. Denver Police shares responsibility for the grant-funded equipment. The grant terms require a full inventory every two years, and the task force needs to note the condition of the equipment on the inventory list.
We found inaccuracies on the inventory list, including a computer monitor incorrectly listed as a $22,000 purchase.
We recommend better tracking and documentation of equipment in accordance with grant requirements.
We also recommend a better segregation of duties for funds used to pay confidential informants and purchase evidence. Our audit team found the same person controls the authorization, custody, and record keeping of the cash funds – although all funds were accounted for during the audit’s sample of transactions.
Additionally, we found the department’s policy to return unused cash was not aligned with current practice. We recommend an update to the policy to match current practice.
Among other bookkeeping inconsistencies we identified, we found officers are rounding time reporting to the half-hour. The police union’s collective bargaining agreement requires overtime be paid down to the minute.
“The police department is largely using these grant funds appropriately,” Auditor O’Brien said. “However, we do need to see more prompt management of specific grant requirements.”
The auditee agreed to all our recommendations.
This audit was released on Thursday, March 19, 2020, without presentation at Audit Committee. March Audit Committee was canceled due to COVID-19 (novel coronavirus).