Audit: $2.8M in outstanding fees, licenses, permits for DEP to collect

TRENTON – The state Auditor issued a report Tuesday saying the Department of Environmental Protection could do a better job

TRENTON – The state Auditor issued a report Tuesday saying the Department of Environmental Protection could do a better job collecting money it’s owed through various fees for licenses and permits.

“We found that the department collection efforts could be more aggressive at pursuing outstanding debt of licenses, permits and other fee type revenues,” the audit said.

The amount owed is $2.8 million, with more than $723,000 in 2008, $757,000 in 2009 and $1.33 million in 2010, according to the audit.

The auditor pointed out that of the $2.8 million, only $390,000 of it has been transferred to the Treasury Department, which is in charge of collecting debt.

The auditor recommended changing the procedure so it’s easier to collect.

The audit, which covered the period between July 1, 2009 and Dec. 31, 2011, looked at various DEP compliance programs, such as the Diesel Retrofit Program and the New Jersey Environmental Management System database program, which is used to process inspection, assessment, billing and revenue collection transactions.  

The audit also found that not enough vehicles were getting follow-up inspections after having their diesel pollution prevention equipment retrofitted, as 4,456 of the 9,997 vehicles that were retrofitted did not have their inspection compliance forms submitted.

“We found that, because of limited staffing, the unit responsible for monitoring the submission of the OTCI has not been following up with the vehicle owners who have not submitted their forms,” the audit said.

The audit also found that too many employees have access to a database,  which could create problems, especially when it comes to altering billing information.

“Since transactions are not systematically monitored, allowing employees to adjust bills and add/delete billable entities may allow for errors or fraud to occur and remain undetected by management,” the audit stated.  

The DEP reported back to the Auditor that it is looking to make changes, such as limiting employee access to databases, conducting more inspections and improving recordkeeping.

  Audit: $2.8M in outstanding fees, licenses, permits for DEP to collect