Originally created 02/20/01

Staffing stifles jury's suggestions



Regarding Augusta's special grand jury presentment in reference to the Motor Vehicle Division of the tax commissioner:

Any taxpayer who has visited or had contact with the Richmond County Tag Office since Jerry Saul took over the tax commissioner's post in 1976 will note the improvements and innovative services he has provided.

Those residents who remember the tag office (there was only one) before Mr. Saul's administration no doubt appreciate those vast improvements. Further, today policies and procedures are implemented according to standards of similar offices throughout the state.

Mr. Saul and his staff are in full agreement that the internal auditor should be contracted for unannounced audits more frequently. However, it should be noted that immediately following the arrest of a suspect last September, Mr. Saul contacted J.T. Cosnahan, the internal auditor.

Mr. Saul asked that Mr. Cosnahan and his staff observe the tag office's money-handling procedures and make recommendations. Many of those recommendations have already been implemented.

Unfortunately, some of the auditor's ideas, as well as some of the grand jury's, can't be implemented due to insufficient staffing.

It should also be noted that it was existing policies and procedures that led to the discovery of an alleged problem and allowed authorities to be notified. In fact, it was the tag office that first made the notification.

It is agreed, however, that more frequent audits by the internal auditor may have revealed the problem sooner. Recent implementation of a new computer system should also help prevent illegal manipulation of data files...

Roger Tomlin, Augusta

(Editor's note: The writer is director of the Richmond County Motor Vehicle Department.)