How Colorado's Wildlife Division overspent $32 million

DENVER (AP)  Sloppy accounting at Colorado's Division of Wildlife caused the agency to overspend $32.4 million between 2007 and 2011, according to a state audit released Monday. Here's a breakdown of what happened, and how the agency plans to fix the problem:

WHERE DID THE MONEY GO? The Division of Parks and Wildlife didn't "lose'' any money, and it didn't spend money improperly, the audit found. Instead, the agency overlooked money that was supposed to stay in “unobligated reserve'' and spent more than it should have. The Wildlife Cash Fund Reserve dipped from $37 million in 2007 to $6 million by 2011.

WHO SPENT THE MONEY? The Wildlife Commission, an 11-member board appointed by the governor. The audit found that board members didn't misspend, but they were relying on incomplete data about the reserve.

HOW WAS THE ERROR DISCOVERED? Last year the Division of Wildlife merged with the Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation. The merger revealed the gap in the Wildlife Cash Fund Reserve, made up of hunting and fishing license fees.

WHO WILL BE PUNISHED? Department of Natural Resources chief Mike King declined to specify how employees have been sanctioned. But he pointed out to lawmakers that the agency has a new chief financial officer.

WHERE WOULD THAT MONEY HAVE GONE? DNR staff says more than 10 capital projects have been scrapped or put on hold because of the depleted savings. The projects include a new office in Gunnison and a new shooting range in the Denver area.

HOW WILL IT BE FIXED? The audit suggested technical accounting changes to make sure the Wildlife Commission uses complete data, including revised procedures for counting assets and liabilities. The division also plans to correct inconsistencies in how funds are calculated from year to year.

Source: Office of the State Auditor

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