The Investigators: Missing Millions

9News Investigators: Missing Millions
Published: Jan. 13, 2015 at 11:28 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 30, 2015 at 2:49 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - State inventory records list thousands of items worth millions of dollars as "unlocated." Missing.

These are things bought by the state with money you work hard to earn. Your tax dollars.

Just about anything you can think of is documented, including missing cows. The report shows 30 cows missing from the State Department of Corrections.

The 9News Investigators examined two years of inventory records for 2013 and 2014.

State Treasurer John Kennedy says that it's unacceptable.

After reviewing the documents, Kennedy offered a folksy analogy. "There's no education in the second kick of a mule," Kennedy said. "The first time you learn don't get near the mule. If the second time the old mule kicks you, it's because you made a choice."

Records show for 2013, more than 4,100 items valued at more than $8.8 million are unallocated.

For 2014, records show, more than $16 million in items missing.

The 9News Investigators found vast state inventory discrepancies year after year, going back to 2005.

Barry Erwin, CEO of council for a better Louisiana (CABL) said, "You can't just do things privately or put letter in files or do those kinds of things and expect behaviors to change. They don't in most of our lives and they don't in the way state government works either."

In reviewing inventory records for the recovery school district, computers made up 85 percent of items missing. In 2013, records show 307 items worth more than half a million dollars missing. In 2014: 4,006 items missing, worth almost $6.6 million.

Kennedy said, "If they go from $500,000 property lost to $7 million worth, in the real world, you get fired." "What that tells me," said Kennedy, "is that people are being very cavalier about this, like it's no big deal. Well, it is a big deal."

Kennedy said the governor's division of administration is ultimately responsible for all the inventory missing.

Kristy Nichols heads up the division. The 9News investigators made repeated attempts for an on camera interview about the Recovery School District and the millions missing.

Instead, in a statement, Nichols said, "The Division is still considering penalties for the Recovery School District. We have referred the matter to the Attorney General."

The AG's office told the 9News investigator, "we have been working with the Division of Administration since October 2014 on state property issues."

Kennedy told 9News, if he was in charge, "I would find out who is responsible and start firing people."

Inventory unlocated at LSU's Baton Rouge campus is also in the millions of dollars.

In 2013, 639 missing items worth $1.65 million. The numbers increased the next year to 838 pieces of property valued at $3.63 million.

Records showed things missing like a $10,000 x-ray scanning table, a $16,000 diesel tractor. An imaging system worth $82,000.

LSU also refused an on camera interview but Ernie Ballard, from Media Relations told 9news, "Most of the equipment listed in the report is fully depreciated." He also said a recently installed bar code system was keeping better track of things.

Kennedy said there was not enough accountability and that without policy change, there would be no motivation to change behaviors that resulted in huge numbers of items unlocated.

Copyright WAFB 2015. All Rights Reserved.