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TxDOT audit recommends financial changes at CAMPO

Tuesday, July 15, 2008 by Kimberly Reeves

The Texas Department of Transportation has completed an audit of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, noting a number of changes it suggested should take place in the area of financial controls.

The audit was requested in January, as the agency was making the transition between executive directors, said CAMPO Transportation Policy Board Chair Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin).  Watson said it was intended to take a snapshot of the agency and get an idea of what was being done wrong, and right.

Executive Director Joe Cantalupo ran through a number of recommendations from the report for board members last night, although he did not have extra copies on hand to provide to the media last night.  Cantalupo said he would provide a copy of the audit on Tuesday.

In the policy recommendations, TxDOT recommended tighter procurement policies; the agency meeting the standards it set out for itself under contracts it drafted; a proper inventory of items, especially those purchased with federal funds; and a better accounting of money flowing into the agency and whether that money was spent on its intended projects.

Cantalupo said he was glad to see the audit had been requested and would have requested one himself when he came into the agency.

“Some of the results are some of the things I expected to see, based on my first 2.5 months on the job,” Cantalupo said. “Some of the things I didn’t expect, so it’s a mixed bag. But it is important to know we’re already working on some of these things mentioned in the audit.”

CAMPO needs to pay more attention to the procurement regulations that are in place and how the agency advertises those services, Cantalupo said. In some cases, staff “went a little bit beyond where they should have extending an agreement to a private entity.” Cantalupo said new procedures should address that.

The agency also needs to keep the standards it sets out for itself in a contract, an area that Cantalupo called a smaller area of concern. In a third recommendation, a better inventory was recommended for items purchased by the agency, especially those purchased with federal funds. It is also important when calculating the useful life of particular items owned by the agency.

Cantalupo said CAMPO staff member Art Zamora already was being trained on a new software program in order to provide a proper log of items.

The agency also has not done a complete job of outlining how it calculated indirect costs on contracts. Because of that, it’s difficult to figure out whether the figures being provided for funding were either too high or too low, Cantalupo said.

CAMPO also needs to do a better job of keeping track of matching funds. If matching funds are provided by a jurisdiction for a particular project, it should be obvious from the paperwork that the money ended up on that project, Cantalupo said.

Watson said he had confidence Cantalupo would address the deficiencies – that is why the audit was requested – and suggested the board request a follow-up audit to make sure all the suggested work was completed.

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