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Audit finds payroll issues with state Department of Revenue


(The Center Square) — The Louisiana Department of Revenue has not maintained adequate controls over payroll for the last two years, increasing the risk of errors or fraud, according to the Louisiana legislative auditor.

“For the second consecutive year, LDR did not maintain adequate controls over payroll processing, which resulted in untimely or lack of certification of time statements by employees and untimely or lack of approval of time statements by supervisors,” auditors wrote in a report issued last week.

Department employees are required by policy to certify their time statements, which are approved by supervisors and monitored by timekeepers through the e-certification process.

Auditors reviewed 6,899 time statements between Jan. 9, 2023 and June 30, 2023, and found 280, or about 4%, were certified by employees between one and 83 days late. Another 141, or about 2%, did not certify the statements at all.

A review of 6,927 time statements for supervisor approval found 856, or more than 12%, were approved between one and 144 days after the payroll posting. In contrast, 209, or about 3%, were never approved, according to the report.

“LDR management should ensure employees comply with existing policies and procedures, including properly certifying and approving time sheets in a timely manner,” auditors wrote. “In cases where employees are unable to certify and/or approve timesheets by the required deadlines, management should ensure proper certification, approvals, and retroactive adjustments are done as soon as the employee returns to work or is able to complete the task.”

Then-Secretary of Revenue Kevin Richard concurred with the recommendations in a letter to Louisiana Legislative Auditor Mike Waguespack on Dec. 22 that also outlined some of the reasons for the delays or lack of certifications or approvals. Gov. Jeff Landry has since appointed former Mandeville Republican state Rep. Richard Nelson to helm the department.

Richard vowed to address the percentage and number of days of untimely certifications through updates to the department’s timekeeper manual, distribute the updates to timekeepers, and direct employees to the updates on the department’s website.

Richard explained several reasons why employees are sometimes unable to certify their timesheets by the payroll date, including sickness or family leave, scheduled time off, employees who didn’t work during the work period, terminations, and office closures on payroll certification due dates.

The revisions to the timekeeper manual will call for employees to certify timesheets “as soon as reasonably possible when he returns to work” with standard comments in the “employee remark” section to indicate a reason. Accepted reasons include family leave, approved leave, office closure, or not at work during the pay period.

The changes will allow supervisors to approve or decline an employee’s time statement before the employee returns.

“In addition to approving/declining the time statement, the supervisor should also include a comment in the ‘Approver Remark’ section as to why the supervisor has approved/declined the employee’s time statement prior to the employee’s action,” Richard wrote.

“LDR believes its actions will resolve the issues discussed by your office and prevent similar issues from developing in the future,” he wrote.