The Minnesota State Arts Board should do a better job monitoring the artists and arts groups that receive Legacy Amendment funds, according to a new report by the Legislative Auditor.
The report said the arts board, which oversees nearly half of the amendment's arts money, has adequate financial controls. The report found no problems with misuse of funds.
But the Legislature requires Legacy Amendment fund recipients to adhere to strict reporting requirements, and the report said the Arts Board needs to make sure grantees are following the rules and using the funds as they were intended to be used.
For example, one rule requires organizations receiving grants to send in a report about how the money was used. The audit found that for 2010 and 2011, nearly a third of those final reports — 443 — were late, including 62 reports that were more than three months late.
In a written response to the audit report, Arts Board director Sue Gens said problems related to monitoring grant recipients have been corrected. She also said a new computer system that reminds grant recipients when reports are due should address the problem of late reports.
The Arts Board oversees about $30 million in grants each year; two-thirds of the money comes from the Legacy Amendment, which Minnesota voters approved in 2008 to support clean water, the outdoors, parks and the arts with their tax dollars.
The auditor's report wasn't the first to reveal the Arts Board's problem with late reports from grantees. Some arts groups were passed over for grants this year because of missing or late paperwork from previous grants. Some of those groups complained that the application process was confusing.
Gens had vowed that the Arts Board would work to improve the entire process.
The Arts Board isn't the only state agency that has struggled to keep up with the Legacy Amendment's reporting requirements. MPR News reported in October that state agencies' efforts to inform the public about Legacy project on a state website were lagging.
Legislative Auditor James Nobles acknowledged that many agencies receiving Legacy Money have struggled with budget cuts and small staffs, making it difficult to keep up with Legacy accountability requirements. But he said the requirements were designed by the Legislature to ensure the state wouldn't misuse taxpayer money.
Several other audits on the agencies that oversee the Legacy arts funds are expected in the coming months. That includes a report on money Minnesota Public Radio receives.