Las Vegas Sun

October 22, 2014

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Audit: Forestry Division not collecting for inmate work

Private business, the federal government and even a church have shortchanged the state Forestry Division for work performed by prison inmates at the nine conservation camps, a legislative audit has determined.

The audit said there was a lack of documentation to justify reimbursement being less than the full rate or not at all.

It found:

• Garden maintenance services worth more than $2,000 were provided free to the Methodist Church in Ely.

• The Bureau of Land Management paid $12,000 for weed treatment services by the inmates at the Humboldt County Conservation Camp when the established rate was $27,000.

• Inmates at the Three Lakes Valley Conservation Camp performed $4,777 in maintenance and repairs at the Mount Charleston fire station, but no money was received by the state.

• Fuels reduction work for a private landowner in Smith Creek by the crews from the Carlin camp netted only $8,400 compared with the full rate of $36,954.

"While providing these services for the negotiated or no-cost rate may be appropriate, we could not find documentation detailing the circumstances necessitating the rate reduction," according to the audit that was released Monday.

Inmates are paid at a rate of $2.10 per work day and $1 per hour from the time of dispatch until returned to the camp.

There was no exact number included in the audit of how much the state was shortchanged, but it said that the division did not receive reimbursement for 90 of the 500 projects.

"Without properly executed agreements, the state may not be adequately protected from liability and all project revenue may not be recovered," said the audit.

State Forester Pete Anderson accepted the six recommendations to provide better documentation "within available resources to the best of our ability."

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