The Secretary of State Audits Division released an audit Wednesday of the Oregon Travel Experience agency, which manages many of the state’s rest areas using state highway funds. Though it found no improper spending of highway funds, the audit recommended better reporting and more transparency.
During their work, the auditors discovered that the chief executive officer had retired and continued to work part-time beginning in May 2011, without notifying many council members of the change until March 2012. The CEO had intended to work through 2012 but left in July.
The governor recently appointed many new members to the council.
“While no rules were technically broken, the council and staff are responsible for doing the public's work, and the public expects it to be done in an open and forthright way. Retiring without informing the governing body is not okay,” Secretary of State Kate Brown said.
OTE is one of 14 boards and commissions that are exempt from state purchasing, personnel and other rules, and auditors recommended that the Legislature reconsider OTE’s semi-independent status.
“OTE’s budget has grown substantially since it was granted semi-independent status, with much of the growth in restricted-use highway funds," Brown said. "It may be a good time for the Legislature to confirm or change that decision.”
The report, including the agency response, can be found at www.sos.state.or.us/audits.