Audit finds slight overspending at North Dakota agriculture department

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BISMARCK — North Dakota Auditor Josh Gallion released a report Thursday, June 11, that finds the state Department of Agriculture spent money that should have remained in the state’s General Fund during the last two-year budget cycle.

The department received legislative approval to use up to $ 50,000 to match salaries for the specific Waterbank Program, but the audit says it spent only about $ 15,000 for that purpose. Gallion asserts that the remaining $ 35,000 should have been left in the General Fund, but the department instead used about $ 25,550 for salaries not tied directly to the program. The department did leave a balance of about $ 9,000 in the General Fund.

The department disputes the finding, saying in response to the audit that it had the authority to use the funds for matching salaries tied to the Outdoor Heritage Fund grant, which provides funding for the program.

“This is an example of the difficulty we encounter when evaluating the performance of programs,” Gallion said in the report. “After consultation with our legal counsel, we believe the Department of Agriculture’s interpretation and implementation were incorrect.”

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