Auditors cite legal violations by state Tourism Division
Legislative auditors sharply criticized the state’s Tourism Division on Monday, charging that it paid contractors more than the contract maximums, paid invoices that didn’t have adequate documentation and didn’t follow proper procedures in choosing two contractors.
Auditor Todd Peterson said that for two contractors hired as brokers to buy both traditional and digital advertising, a total of $7 million was paid out.
Division Director Claudia Vecchio told the panel headed by Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, that the division accepted all the audit recommendations except one because she believes mandating specific deliverables in a two-year marketing contract would tie Tourism’s hands. She pointed out that it’s impossible to predict marketing and advertising needs two years into the future.
She said there were problems with invoices in the past, but “now we have details on how they spent every hour of their time.”
She defended paying some money up front for such things as television production to get them started but said the division requires full documentation at the end of the production to determine how and why the money was spent.
She added that most of the other audit recommendations are already being implemented.
“We need to be flexible in our marketing plan,” she said.
Carlton said the division and lawmakers need to resolve the disagreement.
“I don’t want to micromanage someone’s marketing plan,” she said. “But when they submit a bill without documentation, how do we pay that bill?”
“Think about how you tie deliverables to that plan.”
Vecchio said she would bring the audit committee some ideas that could resolve the disagreement in 60 days. The Tourism Division has a budget of about $17 million from room tax revenues around the state.