State auditors rough up the Judicial Branch for lax policies. Branch says it has a plan


For the Auditors of Public Accounts, with their comments, followed by a Judicial Branch response to the Blogster:


“1. The Judicial Department should improve its attendance record documentation for longevity payments and medical certificates and adhere to procedures for the emergency sick leave bank program.
Our review noted an erroneous calculation of longevity, missing documentation for sick leave, and an eligible employee benefitting from the sick bank before the required waiting period.
2. The Judicial Department needs to improve internal controls over expenditures.
We noted instances in which incorrect receipt dates for grant expenditures were used and certifications of funds transferred to the Connecticut Bar Foundation were certified after the statutory deadline.
3. The Judicial Department should follow its policies and procedures by ensuring that monitoring requirements for quality assurance of contracted services are being performed and records are retained for appropriate time periods.
Without proper documentation, we could not sufficiently determine whether monitoring requirements of contracted services for providers were done. Also, we were informed that records which supported monitoring requirements were stored for a six-month period but later discarded because of lack of storage space. However, we learned an electronic version of the discarded records is available and will require additional follow up in the next audit.

5. The Judicial Department should improve its controls over state property as outlined by the State Property Control Manual in accordance with Section 4-36 of the General Statutes.
We noted that annual inventory reports and supporting records were inaccurate and no physical inventory of equipment was completed during the audited period.”

Thomas A. Siconolfi, executive director of Administrative Services for the Judicial Branch, said this afternoon that the agency has a good relationship with auditors and the new audit was the result of “many discussions.” Indeed, some findings were corrected on the fly and were withdrawn by auditors.

“We take what they say seriously,” he said. “We can control ourselves a bit.” But with a $500-million-plus budget, 4,000 exployees and 80 locations, “there’s lots we can do better,” Siconolfi acknowledged in a phone interview.

“The property accounting is one we and other people are struggling with the most. We’re struggling with the system put in place: the annual inventory, system built 20-something years ago.

The kind of equipment we have now – moveable portable electronics that get replaced and fixed – caused us to have a serious look to put in new systems.”

The branch has 5,000 desktop computers, 1,500 laptops and 1000 printers.

“The systems that worked for the old kind of equipment don’t necessarily work for the new equipment. We are now finalizing a plan and we’ll be in a better place going forward.”