Tax dollars are "walking" out of state buildings every year, in the form of missing or stolen property. The NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters show us what's being done to stop it.
Many of the computers and equipment used to run your state are disappearing without a trace.
The Troubleshooters obtained documents going back two years from the Comptroller's office that show taxpayers originally spent more than $978,000 on the reported missing Dells, HPs, and Macs, along with cameras, printers, power tools and electronics used by state agencies.
"It's alarming to me to think that property that's purchased with the hard-earned money of Connecticut taxpayers goes missing," said State Sen. Andrew Roraback, a Republican and ranking member on the state's finance committee.
The Troubleshooters also found reports of missing radios, cell phones, fax machines, and projectors.
"We don't know if it's just lost, disposed of without following the right process or if it walked out the door," said state auditor Robert Ward.
Ward acknowledges the state's reporting of missing and stolen equipment needs to be more consistent.
"It's very important to follow the right process so we know whether it was obsolete and lost or whether it was lost through carelessness of an employee, then they should be held accountable or whether something was stolen. The taxpayer deserves to do know that," Ward said.
The Department of Public Health initially reported it could not find a number of its computers and scientific equipment. According to the documents, the items were originally purchased for nearly $475,000. However, a spokesman told us many of those items have since been located, including a scope originally purchased for $86,000, but the department could not provide a full list of recovered items.
Still, the Department of Public Health said it is reviewing its inventory process.
Taxpayers spent nearly $110,000 on the Department of Transportation's reported missing items, including chainsaws, snow plows and lawn equipment. But the agency told the Troubleshooters many items were later found, sometimes in the form of spare parts for other equipment. Regardless, a DOT spokesperson said the department is tightening up its reporting process.
"We have to make it our number one priority to ensure that equipment that's purchased with hard-earned tax dollars is accounted for and that we don't look the other way if it disappears or if state employees don't have a good explanation for why the computer they had on their desk yesterday isn't there today," Roraback said.
The reports also document state employees who let counterfeit money slip through According to the documents, employees at the Department of Motor Vehicles accepted $2100 in counterfeit money. However, a DMV spokesperson said the system the department has in place to detect bogus cash is efficient and reliable.
One state institution reported a missing defibrillator.
The Department of Consumer Protection reported one of its Glock pistols was stolen from a car. It's not known where the gun ended up.
"My sincere hope is that out of this investigation the state will change the way it does business to avoid these kind of problems in the future," Roraback said.
That could mean keeping better track of the furniture you buy for the state. Taxpayers spent $1300 on a pillow the Lieutenant Governor's office reports as missing. We are still waiting on a response from the Lt. Governor's office.
The Governor declined to comment for our investigation.