Comptroller’s findings chronicle history of poor fleet management at DNER

By The Star Staff

The Office of the Comptroller of Puerto Rico said Thursday that since 2013 her agency has brought attention to the deteriorated state of vehicles and vessels of the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER), which is now the subject of public headlines.

News of the deteriorated state of DNER equipment has been brought to light recently after reports that a group of DNER rangers had been stranded for 18 days on Mona Island. The rangers were rescued this week.

The commonwealth comptroller’s office said it has been highlighting the problems for years, but agency heads have failed to act on them.

Following the findings, the comptroller’s office formulated recommendations and established corrective action plans to address the lack of control and multiple deficiencies with DNER property.

“On many occasions we see little attention from some entities to the recommendations of the Comptroller’s Office,” commonwealth Comptroller Yesmín Valdivieso said in a written statement. “Audit reports are a valuable tool for correcting detected situations and improving the management of property and public funds. Failure to act immediately and responsibly causes the aforementioned events to worsen over time and the remedy has a greater cost than the treasury [can cover].”

Commonwealth Report DA-13-46 of 2013 had indicated that the 2002 Vehicle Fleet Management and Control Regulations had not been renewed, a situation that could increase the risk of loss and improper use of motor vehicles, and make it difficult to establish responsibility in case of irregularities.

The 2015 DA-15-25 Report, in particular, contained eight findings and the opinion was adverse to the agency. The report had revealed multiple cases of lack of control in the operations of the Transportation Section attached to the DNERs General Services Division, Valdivieso said.

The auditors had found that the Electronic Registry did not include the cost of 638 vehicles in the fleet, did not indicate the region assigned to 55 vehicles and did not add to the registry eight units purchased for $177,000. In addition, 89 percent of the vehicles, boats, trailers and heavy equipment lacked a property number and two boats belonging to the Boquerón Maritime Unit were in a state of abandonment.

“Since 2013, eight audit reports have been published on the operations of the Department, also on fines for violations of environmental laws, water franchise permits and public domain goods, as well as on contracts for professional services and the purchasing area,” Valdivieso said.

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