Auditors recommend changes to weights and measures and brands operations | NevadaAppeal.com

Auditors recommend changes to weights and measures and brands operations

by Geoff Dornan

Auditors say the state should consider giving up annual inspections of every scale, gas pump and other licensed measuring device in Nevada.

And they want the Agriculture Department to consider contracting for brand inspection services to save money.

Those were the top recommendations presented Wednesday to the Executive Branch Audit Committee headed by Gov. Kenny Guinn.

Guinn and committee member Secretary of State Dean Heller were absent from the meeting.

Auditors said they believe the Weights and Measures Division could be more efficient and reduce costs by giving up annual testing of all weighing and measuring devices to ensure they are accurate.

At present, the division checks accuracy of more than 5,200 supermarket and other small scales, 600 large scales such as those used in freight shipping, 567 truck and cattle scales, more than 20,500 gasoline pumps and a laundry list of other devices used in commerce.

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It is charged with ensuring that those scales and other measuring devices are accurate to protect consumers.

Auditors say other states have gone to a system of issuing annual licenses and conduct actual inspections on a two-to-three year cycle instead of annually.

“These states perform inspections less frequently because some weighing and measuring devices are more accurate due to improved technology and state resources are limited,” the audit report says.

They urged the Agriculture Department to evaluate whether some devices on the inspection list can go two or more years between inspections to save money, estimating the potential savings at $250,000.

Agriculture Director Paul Iverson said he would have his staff look into the matter, but he expressed some reservations about the recommendation.

“There is a tendency for people to want to make sure they’re getting what they’re paying for,” he said.

But he agreed it may not be necessary to check every scale in the state every year.

Auditors also recommended Iverson look into contracting for brand inspectors instead of hiring part-time inspectors all around the state. Brand inspectors examine livestock being sold, moved in or out of state and being sent to slaughter. The department employs about 100 part-time inspectors who work anywhere from a few hours a year to more than 100 hours a quarter.

Auditors argued that situation lends itself to a contract relationship that could save the state money by paying them based on certificate fees they collect. They said it could also reduce payroll benefit costs by up to $40,000 a year since most current inspectors work just enough to qualify for state benefits. And it would reduce the number of inspectors needed to do the job.

Iverson expressed some concern saying some good inspectors might be reluctant to convert. But he admitted that taking care of time cards and other administrative duties for 100 inspectors is a lot of work.

He said, however, he would examine the proposal and see if it is feasible.