A state audit has identified nearly $67,000 worth of improper spending in an intelligence-sharing office that used to be run by four officers from the Atlantic Police Department.

Deputy State Auditor Tami Kusian says the “Fusion” Office in Atlantic was established after 9/11 as a regional collection center for criminal and intelligence information from a 14-county area that was then to be shared with other law enforcement agencies.

“We were requested to come in by the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Public Defense and they just identified some issues that they were concerned about and they requested that we come in and take a look at those,” Kusian says. 

The audit reviewed records from a nearly three-and-a-half year period — from the spring of 2006 through August, 2009.  The review by the state auditor’s office found nearly $67,000 in “improper and unsupported disbursements” and most of that was grant money from the state Homeland Security Emergency Management Division.

“A large portion of it were purchases that were made outside the period of grant availability,” Kusian says. “So while it may have been proper, they are unallowable for the grant because they were not made in the right time period.” 

According to the audit, “records were not kept in an orderly fashion and several records were missing,” including credit card receipts. “While the employees, I believe, are considered to be employees of the City of Atlantic, they aren’t actually supervised by the City of Atlantic, so they really exist on their own,” Kusian says. “I guess you could say there was probably not the necessary oversight on that entity.”

The office in Atlantic has been closed, according to Kusian, and the audit has been forwarded to the Cass County Attorney.

There are other “Fusion” intelligence-sharing offices in Sioux City, Waterloo, Oelwein, Des Moines and Blue Grass. Each office has a board made up of officials from sheriffs offices and police departments which oversee the regional operations.  The audit recommends several ways in which the boards can more closely monitor the spending.