The Arkansas Lottery Commission met today to discuss ticket sales, their ongoing internal audit and a proposal to send out an RFQ allowing the lottery to hire outside help to prepare a comprehensive annual report. You may remember that last year a Bureau of Legislative Research audit found the lottery's books were not kept according to generally accepted accounting principles. The meeting started off with a short presentation by Interim Director of Higher Education Shane Broadway, who reported that 10,454 scholarship announcements had been sent to recent high school graduates. Sixteen had already accepted, he said.
Lottery Director Ernie Passailiague told commissioners that ticket sales for fiscal year 2010 were in line with expectations. The lottery has brought in $382.7 million so far this fiscal year. The lottery's staff attorney, Bishop Woosley, went over the RFQ proposal with commissioners. He said the proposal is being issued because the lottery did not have the necessary certification to complete the report themselves. The successful vendor, he said, would train lottery staff so a similar RFQ would not have to be issued next year. New lottery commissioner Bruce Engstrom asked Passailaigue if it wouldn't be more efficient to permanently hire someone with the required skills. Passailaigue said that the type of accounting reports required by the law were specialized and that the lottery had a "good deal invested" in current staff (for one, the lottery has spent over $4,000 for Chief Fiscal Officer Philip Miley to obtain his CPA certification). Engstrom said after the meeting: "I’m just now getting involved in this. They may have done more study on this than I realize. Typically, if I’m a government agency and I’m hiring internal accountants, then I hire someone who has the experience to do governmental financial statements. Now they’re having to hire somebody outside to teach the inside accountants how to do governmental financial statements. That just seemed kind of strange to me." Engstrom also said he would gladly serve on the commission's audit committee.
New Commissioner Steve Faris, a former state representative and senator, was also vocal at today's meeting. When Commissioner Ben Pickard said he would rather not serve another term as secretary and treasurer, Faris said he though Pickard had served the commission well and had "asked the right questions." Pickard agreed to serve another term. Faris also suggested the commission come up with more rules on electing officers. Commission Chair Diane Lamberth was re-elected to her post. Faris said he did not have a problem with that at all, but that the commission needed clear rules for elections and lines of succession, similar to other state boards.