"The Board of Public Defense used nearly $5,000 for a party for its retiring chief administrator.
In January 2003, the board of Public Defense used nearly $5,000 of its General Fund appropriation for a party for its retiring chief administrator. The menu included a variety of appetizers for 200 guests; alcohol was available through a cash bar. The board was unable to provide a list of invited guests, but staff told us that attendees included Supreme Court justices, some legislators, and chief public defenders.
The board does not have a policy that defines acceptable employee recognition events. For executive branch agencies, the state's special expense policy explicitly excludes retirement parties as allowable special expenses. The executive branch's department head expense policy limits recognition of retiring employees to coffee and cake receptions. When authorized, a department's total annual department head allowance is $1,500. The Board of Public Defense is not subject to the executive branch's special expense and department head expense policies, but by comparison, we think that $5,000 for a retirement party was unreasonable.
In a long standing opinion, the Minnesota State Attorney General, in response to questions about employee recognition parties and celebrations by municipalities, concluded that using public funds to pay the expenses of a party that is primarily social in nature is inappropriate, and that any public benefit which resulted from the social function was too remote and speculative in nature to justify the expenditure as being for a public purpose."
"The Minnesota Board on Judicial Standards properly authorized, adequately supported and accurately recorded its payroll and other administrative expenditures in the states
accounting records. In addition, for the items tested, the board complied with material finance-related legal provisions and applicable judiciary personnel plan provisions."
"The Supreme Court needs to improve controls over receipts. The court did not adequately safeguard or promptly deposit attorney registration fee receipts, which totaled about
$4 million annually. We recommended that the court keep receipts in a secure place and make deposits in a timely manner.
The Supreme Court did not document its approval for employees to exceed vacation leave maximums. We recommended that the Supreme Court require employees to reduce their balances to the maximum allowable accrual or document its agreement with the employees it
allowed to exceed vacation accrual maximums.
The Supreme Court did not complete a physical inventory of fixed assets and did not conduct periodic spot checks to verify their existence and location."
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