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June 11, 2020


Audit Finds Overspending at Department of Agriculture

Contact information: Brianna Ludwig, North Dakota State Auditor’s Office, 701-328-2453, bsludwig@nd.gov

State Auditor Joshua Gallion today released an audit of the Department of Agriculture that found the agency overspent $25,529 from the general fund. The agency received legislative approval to spend $50,000 of general funds as matching funds for the Waterbank Program. The agency interpreted the law as authorizing the ability to use the funds as match up to $50,000 of general fund salaries over the 9-year life of the Waterbank Program and, each biennium, interpreted that the remaining money was available to use for other general staff salaries.

"This is an example of the difficulty we encounter when evaluating the performance of programs.” Auditor Gallion said. “After consultation with our legal counsel, we believe the Department of Agriculture’s interpretation and implementation were incorrect.”

The North Dakota Department of Agriculture spent $15,413 of the $50,000 on the Waterbank Program. Based on how the law is written, it appears the remaining $34,587 should have been turned back to the general fund at the end of the biennium. It states the money cannot be spent on anything other than matching salaries for the Waterbank Program. At the end of the biennium, only $9,058 was left in the general fund.

The Department did not believe that all $50,000 in the 2017 Session Law was allocated for a specific program. They believed that any of the remaining money not spent on the Waterbank Program salaries could be used on general staff salaries.

This audit is a result of the State Auditor’s Office statutory responsibility to audit or review each state agency once every two years. The complete audit report can be found on our website, https://bit.ly/AgAudit19.


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