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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Audit Raises Concerns Over Potentially Wasted State Resources, Missing Documentation From Public Ser

Montana Public Service Commission
Montana Public Service Commission

A financial-compliance audit of the Montana Public Service Commission raises concerns about potential waste of state resources, missing documentation and the integrity and competence of certain management personnel.

The Legislative Audit Division on Thursday released a report detailing the ways in which elected officials and staff of the Montana Public Service Commission failed to comply with financial policy in fiscal years 2019 and 2020.

It estimates the PSC understated its 2019 revenue by about $100,000, along with other unaccounted for expenses and revenues over the two years.

It says commissioners potentially wasted travel funds, like an instance when one commissioner purchased a comfort class plane ticket to Washington, DC at nearly $900 more than another commissioner flying to the same destination, despite internal policy requiring commissioners to choose the least expensive travel option.

According to the report, a staff member also tried to give auditors falsified documentation to support spending records.

In a response included in the audit, PSC commissioners agree with the audit’s five recommendations to ensure compliance.

Representatives from the Legislative Audit Division and the Montana Public Service Commission told YPR they are unable to comment before the Legislative Audit Committee’s upcoming meeting.

Former-Commissioner Roger Koopman said he brought up concerns about commissioner misuse of travel expenses when he was on the PSC.

“I’ve been trying to shine a light on problems there at the PSC, where internal policies were not being followed, state rules were not being followed in all kinds of different ways,” Koopman said.

The Legislative Audit Committee is slated to review the audit at its meeting June 7 and 8.

Copyright 2021 Yellowstone Public Radio

Kayla Desroches reports for Yellowstone Public Radio in Billings. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and stayed in the city for college, where she hosted a radio show that featured serialized dramas like the Shadow and Suspense. In her pathway to full employment, she interned at WNYC in New York City and KTOO in Juneau, Alaska. She then spent a few years on the island of Kodiak, Alaska, where she transitioned from reporter to news director before moving to Montana.
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