HARRISBURG, PA - The state Auditor General’s office today released findings from its recent audit of the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
The audit did not reveal the misappropriation of any funds, but identified a number of procedures the Game Commission can strengthen to ensure sound and transparent fiscal management.
The 136-page report on the audit makes a total of 40 recommendations on Game Commission procedures that could be improved.
Because the audit reviewed the Game Commission’s performance from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2017, some of these recommendations already have been implemented independently, and the Game Commission has agreed to work toward implementing nearly all of the others.
The only recommendation with which the Game Commission disagreed involves the documentation of employee hours related to a requirement in the Game and Wildlife Code.
Section 521 of the code requires $4.25 from each resident or nonresident license sold, and $2 from each antlerless license sold, be used for habitat improvement. The Game Commission has always complied with this requirement, and routinely sets aside significantly more than the required amount to use for habitat improvement, with the salaries and benefits of some habitat-management employees covered under the set-aside.
The Auditor General’s report recommended those employees’ holiday, sick and annual leave should not count toward the set-aside, but the Game Commission contends these costs are benefits related to the cost of habitat work, and nothing in Section 521 excludes these costs.
Otherwise, the Auditor General’s recommendations will be implemented, if they have not been already.
The Game Commission will ask the state Department of Treasury to monitor escrow accounts used to secure money to offset development-driven impacts on state game lands, and will clearly identify the monetary amounts being held in escrow and reserve when reporting the agency’s year-end revenue and expenditures. The Game Commission will continue to conduct surveys, marketing campaigns and other initiatives geared toward increasing license sales, will retool its next strategic plan to better associate the plan’s goals with the costs of achieving them and will redouble efforts to explicitly document in meeting minutes whether lands acquired are being purchased through the Game Fund or through other agency resources, including escrow accounts.
Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans said audits like the one that recently was completed always are beneficial. By identifying areas where improvement can be made, the agency can become better as a whole, he said.
“To do our best for Pennsylvania’s wildlife and citizens, we must work as efficiently and effectively as possible,” Burhans said. “Nearly all the recommendations offered by the Auditor General’s office will further improve the Game Commission’s operations and we have started to implement them. I’d like to personally thank Auditor General Eugene DePasquale and his staff for their thorough and professional review of our agency. No matter how big or small, wildlife wins with every improvement we make.”
MEDIA CONTACT: Joe Kosack - 717-787-4250 ext. 3303
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