"Some departments are probably doing a better job than others," said Johnson.
"Frankly, your report is going to spur us to figure this out," Harris County Judge, Ed Emmett said.
Emmett said since many department heads are elected officials, answerable only to voters, no one is sure who's in charge of making sure inventories are done, or double-checking to make sure inventories are accurate. However, Emmett said he now wants commissioners court notified whenever a department isn't following the rules.
"Everybody is now going to pay much closer attention to it," said Emmett. "Commissioners court wasn't notified, that can't happen again."
Local 2 also checked with the Harris County Auditor's Office, since it, too, receives annual inventory reports from the purchasing office. Officials with the auditor's office said while some periodic audits are done on department inventories, many times the auditor's office doesn't step in until an elected official leaves office and a "close out" audit is done.
Steve Garner with the auditor's office sent Local 2 a written statement, "The County's movable assets are selectively tested during close out audits and other periodic audits. However, in light of the inventory and documentation discrepancies you identified the County Auditor's Office plans to perform an audit of the County's procedures and processes for accounting and inventorying of movable assets to identify opportunities for improving controls. The Auditor's Office plans to also audit movable assets in selected departments to evaluate compliance with the County's procedures and the accuracy of the department's inventory listing."
"Could you get away with this in the private sector?" asked Arnold.
"Absolutely not," said Ben Streusand of Americans for Prosperity, a conservative watchdog group that monitors government spending.
"It really is an unbelievable list of equipment that apparently has been lost," said Streusand. "I'm not sure 'lost' is the correct term."
County officials chalked up many of the items on the list of lost items to nothing more than bad record keeping, claiming many of the items were older and obsolete. However, the county has procedures in place to sell older equipment at auction, for scrap or to be used as spare parts.
"Just because something is old it should not go lost, is that correct?" asked Arnold.
"Well, that's true," said Johnson.
"So just because is old doesn't mean it's of no use to the taxpayers, is that accurate?" asked Arnold.
"That's accurate," said Johnson.