Sen. Lydia Brasch, chair of the Agriculture Committee, tells colleagues during legislative floor debate the audit shook the Brand Committee.
“As I am sure everyone may be aware, the audit of the Brand Committee released last summer found a series of disturbing lapses in internal procedures and controls within the agency that resulted in failure to adhere to state statutes and the Brand Committee policies in a number of incidences during the audit period,” Brasch says. “The audit eventually led to Shawn Harvey resigning.”
In a break with tradition, the Brand Committee looked outside the state for a new director. The committee hired William Bunce, who had been director of the New Mexico Livestock Board.
LB 600 will give the Brand Committee flexibility to break another tradition. In the past, the committee had simply promoted one of its three inspectors to become director, combining the administrative roles with law enforcement duties. The legislation would allow the director to concentrate solely on supervisory and managerial duties. It does give the director two years to qualify for law enforcement certification.
The measure also repeals the Registered Dairy Program, which no longer has any participants. Brasch says the committee is working with dairies within its jurisdiction on an alternative.
The state audit last year disclosed sloppy bookkeeping, personal use of a state-owned vehicle, releasing a check for livestock before paperwork had cleared, among other problems. The legislation would also help the committee move to a more electronically-driven records system.
The Nebraska Brand Committee has more than 100 employees and an annual budget of $5 million.