Legislative auditors issued a report this week critical of the Agriculture Department’s weights and measures inspections.
The department’s Division of Consumer Equitability inspects gas pumps and scales among other devices to make sure they are accurate.
“Inspections protect the public from overpaying for product not received, most notably motor vehicle fuel,” the audit report states.
After testing 85 locations, auditors found some 9 percent of devices were outside of operating tolerances. They reported that two locations had not been inspected for more than two years and three of the 12 locations that required a follow-up inspection because of problems received a follow-up inspection.
“The division did not place a device out of service when found to be out of tolerance and there is no enforcement action when these devices are prematurely placed back into service,” auditors stated. “Regulations require authorizations from the division or a registered service agent before previously malfunctioning devices may be used by consumers.”
Finally, auditors report that the division didn’t always collect late fees for follow-up inspections as required. And while the division has the authority to assess civil penalties and remove devices from service, it had not developed enforcement methods to collect annual fees.
They found that inspectors currently use a paper-based record keeping system.
“This outdated system has resulted in inspections being overlooked and untimely and inaccurate information being input into the system,” auditors concluded.
Auditors recommended an updates system or implementation of electronic inspection software to improve performance of regulatory duties.
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