Audit finds ‘financial impairment,’ misuse of funds in Uintah County

Local News

VERNAL, Utah (ABC4) – An audit of Uintah County revealed over a dozen findings of misuse of finances, according to the Office of the State Auditor, including the improper spending of coronavirus relief monies.

After receiving hotline, or ‘whistleblower,’ tips about the potential misuse of funds at Uintah County.

Using his constitutional authority, State Auditor John Dougall performed financial post audits of public accounts and directed his office to audit Uintah County’s financial statements, as well as its compliance with federal grant requirements.

Auditors have now issued 13 findings of varying severity regarding oversight and financial control weakness. Additionally, the Office of the State Auditor says “Uintah County management’s refusal to take responsibility for the accuracy of the County’s financial statements compelled the Office to disclaim an opinion on the financial statements. As such, the auditors could not attest to the fair presentation or accuracy of the information reported in the County’s 2020 financial statements.”

Below are the 13 findings of issues the audit team found, described as “spanning the entire spectrum of government accounting from its tone at the top to its day-to-day management of federal grants”:

  1. County Lacks an Effective Financial Control Environment
  2. Multiple Significant Financial Statement Adjustments Due to Inadequate Financial Close‐out Controls
  3. Lack of Procedures to Ensure Accurate Recording and Tracking of Capital Assets
  4. Acounting for Assets Reported Under the Modified Approach Not in Accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles
  5. Improper Spending of Coronavirus Relief Fund Monies
  6. Circumvention of Established County Purchasing Policy
  7. Multiple Errors in SEFA Preparation Due to Lack of Sufficient Capability and Controls
  8. Accounting System Inadequate to Capture Data Critical to Internal Controls
  9. Inadequate Separation of Duties Related to Accounting System Development, Deployment, and Change Management
  10. County Officials Did Not Disclose Conflicts of Interest During 2020
  11. Improper Spending of Coronavirus Relief Fund Monies
  12. Ineffective Federal Program Management
  13. County Did Not Properly Oversee Submission of Required Reports to Federal Government

The auditors included the following statement: “The Uintah County leadership’s disagreement with the findings noted above highlights the lack of understanding and lack of responsibility with which they approach execution and oversight of financial reporting, which the auditor finds concerning.”

State Auditor John Dougall added:

“Every political subdivision of the State of Utah is responsible for appropriately managing and reporting its financial activities. I’m deeply troubled by the severity of financial impairment in Uintah County government, particularly the disregard for regulations required for federal funding. And I’m particularly concerned by the inability or unwillingness of county officials to stand behind the accuracy of the county’s financial statements. Both the Uintah County Commission and Clerk/Auditor share responsibility for overseeing the finances of Uintah County. They should take immediate steps to significantly improve internal processes, procedures, and adherence to state and federal guidelines.”

You can read the full report here.

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