Officials of the state Department of Transportation and Development have failed to properly oversee a controversial new computer system being tested in the agency, Legislative Auditor Daryl G. Purpera said Monday.
As a result, Purpera said, the agency failed to properly bill $26 million in federal spending, among other problems.
DOTD Secretary Sherri LeBas disputed much of the criticism in a written response to the audit.
Key parts of Purpera’s review are focused on what has been touted as a major upgrade of state government’s computer setup.
The $100 million revamp was started under former Gov. Kathleen Blanco.
A pilot program at DOTD was supposed to be the last step before the new system is launched throughout state government. It was started on Nov. 15, 2010.
But the study said DOTD officials failed to bill the federal government $26 million because of conversion and coding errors in the new system and inadequate reports.
Purpera said other problems could result in the state failing to comply with federal rules on matching dollars and permissible spending.
The report says good internal controls are needed with the launching of a new computer system to ensure accurate financial reporting.
It says DOTD management should make sure that users of the computer system are trained properly, understand the impact of coding errors and that all of the state spending eligible for federal reimbursement is properly identified and billed.
LeBas countered that the computer pilot project was a “huge success, especially considering the deficiencies of our old legacy financial systems.”
On the $26 million criticism, LeBas conceded that there were discrepancies between funding sources and actual dollars used to pay for the work.
But she said federal compliance rules have been met, and that DOTD officials have called attention to problems with the processing of some transactions.
Purpera’s report also said that four of 45 federal projects tested incorrectly, which makes it more likely that state spending would be incorrectly coded and harder for DOTD officials to identify the state match.
LeBas said that criticism was off target. “No state expenditures are incorrectly coded as federal funds,” she wrote.
Purpera also said two of 50 payments on federal projects failed to accurately spell out state and federal costs. “These errors resulted in noncompliance with federal matching requirements,” he said.
LeBas said one of the two projects cited was paid totally by the federal government.
The second one cited, she said, involved $109, which she said is too minor to warrant an audit finding.