Legislative Auditor: BREC needs to strengthen oversight 

    A new report from the Louisiana Legislative Auditor finds that, while BREC has started to make improvements to facilities and policies over the past five years, there are areas that need better oversight. 

    The audit looked at documents from 2013 to 2018. Plans for the zoo, which failed to pass the accreditation standards set by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, are chief among the problems noted in the adit. 

    While BREC did develop two comprehensive strategic plans for its parks, according to the report, it did not implement a formal planning process specifically for the zoo until November 2014 and it still needs to develop a written maintenance plan that meets the standards for the AZA.

    BREC, in its response, says the master plan for the zoo should be completed by September, and it will reapply for accreditation in the fall of 2021. However, BREC still needs to identify additional funding to fully implement the plan. 

    Additionally, the audit looked at BREC’s project spending. Documents show that BREC spent approximately $55 million on capital improvement projects from 2015 to 2018, but the audit found that BREC hasn’t yet finalized any procedures for managing the projects. And, while BREC has established cost recovery targets, it has not yet measured whether its programs meet these targets due to limitations in its current accounting system, the audit identified.

    According to BREC, the primary reason it hasn’t measured cost recovery targets is that it cannot allocate direct and indirect costs to individual parks and programs until its new accounting software, which is in its planning phase, is implemented. 

    The audit also states BREC should strengthen its oversight of the agreements it establishes with fundraising foundations and other entities, such as sports leagues, and described four likely instances of misappropriation of assets, which BREC noted in a report about its financial health released in July. In two of the instances, no criminal charges where filed, in one, no suspect was identified and in another, a suspect was identified and charged. Read theDA from the Legislative Auditor.

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