The Texas Department of Public Safety improperly monitored how its employees use gas payment cards and should better ensure personal information from background checks is secure, state auditors said in a report released Thursday.
The State Auditor's Office reviewed two DPS contracts: one with a company that provides agency employees with credit cards for work-related trips and another with a company that processes criminal background checks for members of the public. Auditors concluded that DPS overpaid the card vendor more than $500,000 and made 18 late payments, incurring almost $3,000 in penalties. Also, some employees' cards had charges they say they didn't make and some were using cards not issued to them, auditors found.
U.S. Bank provides DPS employees with the credit cards for fuel, maintenance, repairs and roadside assistance. During the first three years of the contract, the agency paid U.S. Bank almost $55 million, and the department had about 4,800 active fuel cards as of November, according to the report. The company's contract with DPS began four years ago.
"The issues above increase the risk that the department could pay for fuel purchases that do not support state business," auditors wrote. "The department should improve fuel card accountability by reconciling logged fuel card charges with data and bank statements available through the vendor's online monitoring tools."
DPS told auditors that it reduced a later payment to the vendor by about $440,000 to begin to address the overpayment issue, according to the report. A DPS spokesman said Thursday the agency is aware of the report and is taking steps to address each finding.
The agency told the auditors it has created an "agency-wide workgroup" to establish procedures for reviewing its books and card user activity.
Reviewing the background check deal also known as the Fingerprint Applicant Services of Texas contract, auditors said the agency should set up checks to ensure personal information is protected through proper encryption and employees with the vendor are trained to handle sensitive information. DPS contracted MorphoTrust USA to process fingerprints for members of the public needing a criminal background check for a job, professional license or volunteer activity. The contract began last June and is expected to cost $4.2 million for the current budget year. The contract is scheduled to end in August 2017.
Auditors said the agency should make sure data is secure and background checks stay updated for MorphoTrust USA employees who work with sensitive information. DPS told auditors that it does ensure personal information is safeguarded and will work with the company to have at least monthly background checks for employees working with sensitive information.