AP audit exposes Texas county finance chief’s mismanagement

An accounts payable audit of Harris County, Texas, found that taxpayers had funded more than $300,000 in travel expenses incurred by its former finance chief, Edwin Harrison, according to the Houston Chronicle.

As part of a recovery audit, the county was able to recoup the last of the funds last month. The charges – which included copious restaurant visits as well as minibar tabs and hotel movies – were incorrectly approved by county auditors after Harrison wrote the expenses into law firms' contracts. Receipts to substantiate the expenses were never requested, according to the news source.

Despite the fact that the charges were made between 2006 and 2009, county Auditor Barbara Schott was unaware of Harrison's conduct until the spring of last year, when a whistleblower prompted her staff to begin an audit.

"This is just an error on my accounts payable department," Schott told the news source. "They should have required (receipts)."

When conducting accounts payable audits, it is important to verify that expenses are documented by receipts. This can prevent fund misappropriation and embezzlement.  

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