Created in 1841 the Nebraska Supreme Court, is the highest court in the state of Nebraska. There are seven justices in total, five of which are democrats, while the Chief Justice Mike Heavican, and Justice William B. Cassel are republican.
In a report conducted by the Nebraska Auditor of Public Accounts Mike Foley, the court was found to have conducted not only violating Nebraska Law, but mismanaging it’s appropriated funding for the last biennium.
By law state agencies are to act within the budget’s approved by the legislature and signed by the governor, but in 2012 the court spent $220,000 over it’s budgetary limit, by taking from it’s 2013 appropriations. As noted in prior audits the court still continues it’s longstanding tradition of not allowing sick leave, or vacation benefits to it’s law clerks despite a clear regulation permitting those to all full time employees within the state. The court has said it will discontinue it’s practice of improperly denying mandatory benefits to it’s law clerks.
The Court operated contrary to State law by not processing and documenting all contracts for services through the State’s accounting system. The Court also awarded a computer services contract in excess of $665,000 without using competitive bidding, which is contrary to good management practices.
The auditors identified over $3,800 of improper travel expenses. Most of this was due to
unnecessary hotel expenses for Court employees. The Court charged the Federal government over $271,000 for Court employees’ work on Federally-funded grant projects but failed to document properly that the hours were actually worked, as required by the Federal granting agencies.
The Court owns fixed assets with an historical cost of well over $700,000 and is required by
State statute to conduct an annual inventory of all of its assets. The Court disregards this
statutory requirement, and the auditors identified many thousands of dollars of assets that were not properly recorded in the State’s accounting system – as well as multiple State assets that could not be located. This serious lack of internal control over State property increases the risk that assets purchased with taxpayer dollars may be lost or stolen.
Auditor Foley observed, “I am grateful for the Court’s full cooperation during the audit and its commitment to making improvements in the areas identified.”