Where did it go? Part 2: A WAFF 48 News Special Report - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Where did it go? Part 2: A WAFF 48 News Special Report


Alabama's Department of Human Resources is on top of a list for 2010, but not one they're proud of.

The State Auditor's FY 2010 losses report shows DHR has lost almost 400 tax payer purchased items, more than any other state agency that year.

[State Auditor's website]

"It did surprise me, for 2010. I was not real pleased with it," said DHR Commissioner Nancy Buckner at DHR headquarters in Montgomery.

It's nothing for taxpayers to be pleased with either, particularly when you find out how much we paid for all of those missing items -- more than $720,000.

[FY 2010 Losses Report (PDF)]

WAFF 48 News asked Commissioner Buckner if she could explain what happened to some of these missing items, starting with the most expensive on the list: five telephone systems that the state paid anywhere from $15,000 to $46,000 each.

"We have located all of the phone systems," she said. "One of the phone systems was actually destroyed in the fire at St. Clair County."

A fire at the St. Clair County DHR office in August 2009 destroyed thousands of dollars in equipment - a loss that's easy to understand. But the report still has pages upon pages of other computers, printers, projectors and other expensive office equipment that remains unaccounted for and don't have an easy answer as to what happened to them.

For example, there are 29 missing laptops on the report that were purchased for more than $102,000.

Since WAFF 48 News brought the report to the department's attention, they immediately began taking steps to locate items on the list. So far they've found and have documentation for about 100 items.

"We've laid eyes on these items," Buckner said.

Buckner says this brings DHR's missing property down to just below 250 items, so from almost three-quarters of a million dollars in losses to a little more than $360,000.

After doing some research, Buckner says she doesn't believe a lot of the property on the list is actually missing. She says it is likely people did not file the correct paperwork following a number of equipment upgrades over the years.

"The biggest problem, I believe, is the paperwork. It was very deficient paperwork in my opinion and we're going to get that corrected," she said.

Buckner says she wants Alabama to know she doesn't take the use of your tax dollars lightly, and vows to do a better job keeping track of state property.

"We are going to locate everything that we can, we're going to try to track it down, figure out when it was actually destroyed or done something and from that day forward, this day forward, we're going to do a better job with our paperwork, we have to," she said.

Next Tuesday, May 31st at 10pm, in the third and final installment of our series of reports, "Where did it go?," we spotlight the state agency with the second highest amount of losses for 2010 and put its chief officer on the hot seat.

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