Essex County Probation Department – Internal Controls Over Financial Operations (2013M-38)

Issued Date
April 19, 2013

Purpose of Audit

The purpose of our audit was to examine the Probation Department’s internal controls over financial operations for the period January 1, 2011, to September 30, 2012.


Essex County is located in northeastern New York State and has a population of approximately 39,000. The County is governed by the Board of Supervisors which comprises 18 members, one of whom also serves as the Chairman of the Board. The County’s budgeted general fund expenditures for the 2012 fiscal year were $73.9 million.

Key Findings

  • County and Department officials had not established an adequate system of internal controls over the Department’s financial operations. As a result, cash receipts were not properly accounted for, secured, and deposited in a timely manner.
  • The Department’s failure to establish policies and procedures regarding driving while intoxicated (DWI) administrative fees has resulted in an inequitable assessment of fees to probationers and a lack of enforcement of inactive probationers’ delinquent accounts. For example, we found that 89 inactive probationers owe at least $9,710, but as much as $58,260, to the County for unpaid DWI administrative fees.
  • The Director’s decision to not utilize the financial module of the computer program that the Department purchased in 2006 resulted in the Department utilizing computer systems that could not generate adequate monthly reports and allowed for financial transactions to be modified and deleted without audit trails.

Key Recommendations

  • Ensure that cash receipts collected are physically safeguarded, only accessible to authorized employees, and deposited timely.
  • Establish written policies and procedures related to the assessment of DWI fees to ensure that Department employees have adequate and specific guidance in determining the correct amount of the fee. Implement enforcement procedures to help ensure the collection of all delinquent DWI fees.
  • Ensure that the Department uses a computerized financial system that generates adequate monthly reports, prevents the modification and deletion of financial transactions, and provides for an adequate audit trail.