The state auditor has a new report that finds the Department of Fish and Game's handling of money from the Bay-Delta Sport Fishing Enhancement Stamp is being mismanaged -- but not like you probably think.
The program's spending isn't out of control. Rather, most of the millions of dollars collected through the program aren't being spent because the department has trouble tracking what it does spend.
From the audit's executive summary:
As of June 30, 2008, the fish stamp account had an unspent balance of more than $7 million, although a portion was committed to approved projects that have not yet been funded. Thus, individuals who purchase the fish stamp are not obtaining the full benefit of the fees they are required to pay.
Although individual project managers attempt to track the costs of projects for which they are responsible, they do not always have complete information because not all expenditures charged to specific fish stamp projects are routed to them for approval.
Neither the project managers nor the Fish and Game accounting services branch reconciles to the accounting records the information maintained by project managers. In fact, a reconciliation would be very difficult to complete since the accounting system does not typically identify expenditures by project.
... Fish and Game does not have an accurate accounting of either the administrative expenditures or individual project expenditures for the fish stamp program.
We also identified expenditures that Fish and Game charged inappropriately to the fish stamp account. The law specifying allowable uses of fish stamp revenue is broad, but based on our review of a sample of expenditures, Fish and Game does not ensure that the money is used appropriately.