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Audit gives Florida Department of Transportation good grades for efficiency

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(The Center Square) — The Florida Department of Transportation received high marks on its efficiency with taxpayer funds during fiscal 2022-2023, but auditors found some issues that needed correction.

According to the annual report by the Office of Inspector General, the audit portion was done to provide independent appraisals of the performance of department programs and processes. This included an assessment of management’s performance in meeting information needs within the department while maintaining its resources.

The audit team also provided assurance and consulting services to promote the efficiency and effectiveness of department programs, producing audits, reviews of contracts, grants, operational processes and information technology, particularly focused on cybersecurity.

While most programs that were audited were found to be compliant, several issues included duplicate payments to certain engineering firms, unreliable performance measures and internal controls to protect personal information.

However, other programs with findings or recommendations, like the Nuclear Density Gauge Storage, and the Identity & Access Management Enterprise Cybersecurity Audit, were protected from disclosure. The report states that all findings had been addressed and actions had been taken to prevent future deficiencies.

The OIG’s investigative team worked to detect and deter activities such as contract fraud and employee misconduct within FDOT. The investigation team received 203 complaints during the year, in which 18 investigations were opened, 112 were referred to management and 73 complaints were forwarded to other agencies.

The report noted that the OIG conducted fraud awareness briefings throughout the state to department employees, supervisor and management academies, and professional engineer trainees. Fraud hotline employees were also trained to identify and report fraud, waste, abuse, misconduct or mismanagement.

Nine investigations were carried forward from fiscal 2021-2022, and three cases were worked jointly with law enforcement. These included allegations of fraud, theft, falsification, conflicts of interest, bid rigging, false certification, lack of quality control and recording without consent.

One former department employee was believed to have misused a debit card or cash withdrawals from an Employee Benefit Fund. Investigators found unreconciled ATM withdrawals and several charges on the EBF debit card for DoorDash purchases.

The OIG found conflicts of interest involving a department employee and a contractor doing business with the department. Based on interviews and records, it was “proved that the employee created the appearance of a conflict of interest by attempting to utilize a Department contractor for a fellow employee’s potential benefit.”