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DENVER-The city’s auditor, Dennis Gallagher, has completed his audit of the Denver Metro Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and found that the bureau has not been in compliance with city rules. The audit was undertaken to evaluate the bureau’s compliance with two contracts it has had with the city.

One of the contracts allocated 1.75% of the lodgers tax to the bureau and expired at the end of 2003. In 2002, that amounted to nearly $4.9 million. The other contract allocated $470,000 in 2002 and $418,000 in 2003 to the bureau to promote the Colorado Convention Center.

The audit shows the bureau failed to maintain financial records in sufficient detail and in such a manner as to allow an accurate accounting of how city funds received by the bureau had been spent, specifically, whether any of those funds had been spent on alcohol. The contracts prohibit the expenditure of city funds on alcohol.

The audit does note, however, that the bureau accepted the recommendations and has made the necessary changes to comply with all recommendations in the audit findings. Gallagher says that while he was troubled that the Bureau had violated provisions of the contract, he was pleased that the necessary changes were being made.

“Strict accountability is the hallmark of good government and the standard we expect of those who do business with government,” Gallagher says. “So I am, of course, troubled when the level of accountability that I expect and the people demand is not attained. It is troubling because a lack of strict accountability leaves the door open to suspicion on the part of the public. And suspicion is the poison that destroys faith in our institutions.”

However, he is troubled by the way the bureau maintained its books, making it impossible to determine if city money was spent on alcohol. “That inability to make an explicit determination can leave the door open to public suspicion,” Gallagher says. “However, strict accountability is the breeze of fresh air that can blow away any cloud of suspicion. That is why, despite my serious concern over the prior failure to fully comply with the contracts, I am pleased that the bureau has adopted the changes we have recommended.”

Additionally, the audit finds that reimbursements of employee expenses were not consistently supported by appropriate documentation. The bureau in some cases made reimbursement based on credit card summaries, photocopies of receipts or statements of accounts. Reimbursement should be based on original itemized receipts. The Bureau, says it will institute this change, as well.

The audit looked at compliance with the two contracts for the period January 1, 2002 to October 31, 2003. A new contract with the bureau for the lodgers tax began Jan. 1. This contract incorporated more stringent accounting practices language, reflective of the recommendations in the audit.

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