‘Unacceptable deference to … authority’ fueled MARTA P-card abuse
A “complete failure” of internal controls allowed a top MARTA aide to charge several thousand dollars of personal expenses to the transit agency, auditors reported Thursday.
At about $3,600, the improper charges were relatively minor, the report by the accounting firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers found. But the auditors called on MARTA to tighten up internal procedures to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
The aide — Doree Henry, executive assistant to MARTA general manager Beverly Scott — was fired in August. Auditors said her improper charges included rental cars, gasoline, a hotel room, books and candy.
The report, commissioned by the MARTA board in September, found that :
- Henry did not complete monthly reconciliation reports for her P-card spending, a failure that was flagged a full year before her P-card was finally suspended;
- Scott was not told her assistant’s P-card was suspended for nearly a year after that; and
- MARTA failed to assign an “approving official” to monitor Henry’s P-card activity.
Why was there such a lengthy delay in holding Henry accountable for her spending? The auditors concluded:
“Interviews with the personnel involved indicated that an unacceptable deference to positions of authority was a contributing factor to the protracted nature of this issue.”
MARTA’s audit committee plans to meet Nov. 29 to consider the auditor’s recommendations.
In a prepared statement, board Chairman Michael W. Tyler said:
“While the expenditure of $3,600 is a relatively minuscule amount in the context of MARTA’s 2010 Annual Budget of $787.6 million, it is nonetheless totally unacceptable and inconsistent with the MARTA Board’s zero-tolerance policy for any improper expenditure of MARTA resources.”