The Motor Vehicle Administration's failure to deposit checks promptly and its lax internal controls have cost taxpayers an estimated $275,000 a year and made the agency more vulnerable to employee theft, legislative auditors say.
A report to be made public today criticizes the agency for at least 20 specific accounting problems and gives the MVA an overall "poor" management rating.
The auditors from the legislature's Department of Fiscal Services said they gave the agency such a low rating because they found many of the same problems 2 1/2 years ago.
The problems vary from not keeping tabs on registration stickers to a hefty 207-day backlog in correcting registration information.
The auditors were particularly critical of the MVA for not depositing checks from motorists quickly enough.
They said vehicle excise tax payments lie around for three to 10 working days at one location before being deposited.
For an agency that handles about $500 million a year in payments, a few days' lost interest adds up -- to $275,000, according to the report.
W. Marshall Rickert, the MVA administrator, said the criticisms are justified and in most instances have already been corrected.
"The audit did not uncover a single instance of funds being lost or not accounted for," Mr. Rickert said. "The MVA has collected millions in tax revenue in 81 years. From time to time, there have been lapses in procedure. This is a wake-up call."
In the two-year period covered by the audit, at least three MVA employees have been prosecuted for criminal behavior. Mr. Rickert said those criminal cases helped identify problems with accounting practices that have since been corrected.