Controller Saw State Fund Anomalies in 1997
The California Department of Finance was warned 14 years ago about large anomalies in the reserves held by the state parks department.
The alerts were issued by the State Controller’s Office, which noticed the discrepancies while judging department awards for accounting methods, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
The controller’s office compared fund balances reported for the state budget — and for accounting purposes — and then alerted finance officials to “significant variations in what was being reported by the parks departments as far back as 1997-98,” Jacob Roper, a spokesman for the controller’s office, told the newspaper by email.
Those alerts went on for five years and then ceased in 2003, when then-Controller Steve Westly stopped issuing them.
Roper said other departments had discrepancies as well, and the newspaper has asked for documents including lists provided to the Department of Finance.
The state’s financial controls are under scrutiny after the discovery last month that the parks department had stashed away $54 million in two special accounts at a time when Director Ruth Coleman was preparing to close 70 parks to save $22 million. She stepped down over the controversy and the state is shoring up its handling of 560 such special funds.