(Updates w/ Director’s comments) SWITA Audit shows improper data and disbursements

News

January 25th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Southwest Iowa Transit Agency Director Steve Andersen reacted today (Friday), to a report from Auditor of State David Vaudt, with regard to a special investigation of the Southwest Iowa Transit Agency (SWITA), based in Atlantic. The special investigation was requested by the Office of Public Transit within the Department of Transportation (DOT), as a result of concerns regarding Andersen’s compliance with reporting requirements.

Steve Andersen – SWITA Transportation Director (Photo from swipco.org)

Andersen told KJAN News SWITA welcomes Vaudt’s findings and have already implemented methods to correct reporting procedures to the DOT. He says many of the changes were made in advance of the report, which he received Thursday morning. Andersen says their past reports are being amended to accurately reflect the number of charter rides, in particular, those offered in Fiscal Year 2012.

The report covers the period of July 1st, 2011 through June 30th, 2012. Vaudt reported the special investigation identified 8,901 charter riders which were improperly included as public riders on the quarterly charter reports submitted to DOT by SWITA, which does not comply with the Code of Federal Regulations. Because charter services were not properly reported to DOT in fiscal year 2012, SWITA could potentially receive funding in fiscal year 2014 which the agency is not entitled to if the charter riders are not adjustedAndersen says the goal of the audit was to provide corrective action, and that goal is being accomplished through the efforts of SWITA and the Office of Public Transit.

The audit report also identified $300 of improper disbursements for the payment of golf registration fees for employees of the Southwest Iowa Planning Council (SWIPCO). Andersen says the funds were for two drivers and two office personnel, including himself, to participate in a fundraiser for the Cass County Memorial Hospital Foundation. He says their participation, which was approved by the previous SWITA executive director, was intended to serve as a “Thank you” to the hospital for their business. Andersen says SWITA’s “…Amended internal policy no longer allows for such expenditures, and it will no longer be an issue.”

The report includes recommendations to strengthen the DOT’s internal controls and overall operations, and it makes recommendations to strengthen SWITA’s internal controls and overall operations. Andersen said he takes full responsibility for any discrepancies in the report, and that he will work to ensure those errors don’t happen again.

Copies of the report have been filed with the Iowa Department of Transportation for consultation with the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Transit Administration. A copy of the report is available for review in the Office of Auditor of State and on the Auditor of State’s web site at http://auditor.iowa.gov/specials/1360-6450-B0P1.pdf.