- Al Sharpton, Trayvon Martin’s parents rally against Fla. ‘stand your ground’ law
- Hillary Clinton campaign got illicit funds from D.C. scandal figure
- Obama administration backs off plan to cut prescription-drug program
- Tickets linked to stolen passports purchased by Iranian middleman
- More than 3,500 police planned for Boston Marathon
- Ottawa day care suspends 2-year-old for ‘outside’ cheese sandwich
- Liam Neeson tells NYC mayor to ‘man up’ in horse carriage fight
- Real-life Dr. Doolittle to reveal how to talk to animals
- Climate change could bring back smallpox, researchers say
- Shoe-bomb witness to speak from London at N.Y. trial
Missing: Millions in Virginia taxpayer-funded property
From an incinerator to lawn mowers, public items unaccounted for
One might think it difficult to misplace an incinerator or, for that matter, three baby grand pianos. Somehow, Virginia State University managed to do just that, along with sculptures, laptops, lawn mowers, a tractor, copiers and lots of other sizable and costly objects.
But the story behind the “lost or stolen” incinerator, which was bought in 1980 for $10,000 and went missing in June 2010 may, well, go up in smoke. University spokesman Tom Reed refused to allow an interview with any of the workers who may have been responsible for tracking university inventory.
“We are confident that the items in question were properly accounted for in accordance with existing university and Commonwealth of Virginia policies and practices,” Mr. Reed wrote in an emailed statement.
Virginia State University isn’t alone. A request under the Freedom of Information Act for a list of public property recorded as lost, missing and stolen across state agencies turned up roughly $8 million in taxpayer-funded fixed assets.
But that $8 million figure, the acquisition value of the assets analyzed, is probably just the start. The state doesn’t have a complete database of its assets, and therefore no complete list of missing ones.
“There is no consolidated report of lost or missing assets that’s gleaned from either that system or directly from agencies,” Virginia Comptroller David A. Von Moll said.
The closest thing to a full list is the state’s Fixed Asset Accounting and Control System used by assigned agency employees and maintained by the Department of Accounts to categorize and track assets for financial reporting reasons.
But the system isn’t comprehensive.
For starters, agencies are required only to record “capitalized” assets — anything with a minimum $5,000 value upon purchase and with a life expectancy longer than one year — in the system. Reporting anything valued at less than $5,000 — a “controlled” asset — is completely optional.
Agencies are still required to take inventory of items worth less than $5,000 — just not with the state.
“That doesn’t mean that agencies are any less responsible for safeguarding those assets,” Mr. Von Moll said.
To make matters murkier, public universities still have to keep internal records of their assets but don’t have to report them to the state. Virginia State University, along with James Madison University, are the only two Virginia universities that do.
“It’s clearly the intent of the legislature to allow universities to operate autonomously, under the assumption that, the universities argue, it allows them to be more efficient to not have Richmond telling them what to do, so to speak,” Mr. Von Moll said.
JMU’s records show scores of computers categorized as “lost.” But university spokesman Bill Wyatt refused to set up an interview with any of the managers responsible for overseeing assets regarding the missing computers, saying that, “as a general rule, the university does not respond to speculative questions or hypothetical situations.”
TWT Video Picks
By David Keene
Conference showed that the values Reagan cherished still endure
- FCC targets black conservative in TV station fight
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Hillary Clinton campaign received funds from Jeffrey Thompson
- Senate Democrats, Republicans spar over restoring unemployment benefits
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- CARNES: Kissinger's flawed and offensive analysis of Ukraine
- DHS accused of holding U.S. citizen at airport, using emails to pry into her sex life
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Atheists sue to remove 'Ground Zero Cross' from 9/11 museum
- George Zimmerman signs autographs at Orlando gun show
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again