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January 25, 2012

Audit criticizes accountability in Md. EMS

By Erin Cox
The Capital

ANNE ARUNDEL, Md. — The agency that licenses ambulances in Maryland should better track licenses and money, according to an audit released Friday.

The Office of Legislative Audits found the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems, known as MIEMSS, lacked accountability in collecting ambulance license fees, didn't follow laws when closing the budget books and didn't closely track spending on corporate purchasing cards.

In a letter responding to the audit, Robert R. Bass, executive director of MIEMSS, said his agency has addressed all the issues.

The audit found MIEMSS records didn't keep track of whether fees were collected for the approximately 420 commercial ambulance licenses issued in fiscal year 2010. It wasn't the first time auditors pointed out this problem; five preceding audits since 1996 noted it.

The same agency offers inspections to government ambulance programs such as Anne Arundel County, where the fire department provides emergency transport to citizens. The commercial licenses are used for ambulances that transfer patients among medical facilities, MIEMSS spokesman Jim Brown said.

In Bass' response to the audit, he said employees kept a log of commercial ambulance services, though it was not always maintained on time.

The auditors found the agency didn't transfer unspent money as it was required, and reported the wrong balances to state officials. Bass admitted to paperwork problems, but said the MIEMSS did not keep money it was not allowed and would do a better job keeping records.

The 17 corporate cards the agency issued weren't properly monitored, auditors said, saying they found the agency didn't verify cardholders received by them and gave cardholders a lot more credit than needed. One cardholder with a $10,000 monthly limit spent $256 a month on average.

The Office of Legislative Audits regularly reviews financial statements of government agencies and reports them to state lawmakers.

Copyright 2012 Capital Gazette Communications, Inc.

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