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Boston — State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump today released an audit of the Berkshire County District Attorney’s Office (BCDA) which identified needed improvement in its operations including the reconciliation and collection of forfeited funds and inventory processes for equipment and furniture.
The audit, reviewing the period of July, 2012 through September, 2013, examined BCDA’s financial operations and management of property. From this scope, the audit reported that forfeited funds were not remitted to the BCDA by municipal police departments up to 232 days after the case was adjudicated. Additionally, the BCDA was not reconciling closed cases with forfeited funds with the state’s management database.
Under state law, when funds are seized from a defendant, the local police department may hold the funds in escrow until the forfeiture process is complete. Once the case is adjudicated, those funds are dispersed among the law enforcement agencies — local or state police — that participated in the prosecution. Due to the weaknesses in the forfeiture system, funds that could have been used by BCDA, local police, and state police, may not have been available for use when needed, and balances may not accurately reflect the amount of funds available.
Following the audit, BCDA amended its internal policies related to forfeiture funds to address the audits findings.
Additionally, the audit found the office did not perform an annual inventory of furniture or equipment during the audit period and that the processing of employee leave time was not processed in a timely manner.
The Office of the State Auditor conducts technical and performance assessments of state government’s programs, departments, agencies, authorities, contracts, and vendors. With its reports, the OSA issues recommendations to improve accountability, efficiency, and transparency.
The Berkshire County District Attorney's Office audit is available here.