Montgomery County has not audited employee expense reports for the last three years, and County Councilman Hans Riemer wants to know why not.

The at-large Democrat raised the issue at a meeting between a council committee and Office of Internal Audit manager Larry Dyckman. He cited a Washington Examiner article from November in which county spokeswoman Donna Bigler said expense reports from the 2009 and 2010 fiscal years could not be released because they hadn't been audited.

"We audit them as we identify areas needing auditing," Dyckman told Riemer. "But we don't routinely audit all expenses."

Bigler said she does not know whether the reports -- originally requested in August -- are ready to be released now.

Riemer said he is requesting the expense reports from the County Executive's Office and plans to meet with the Department of Finance on Monday.

"It's early to say that there's not an adequate system in place," Riemer said, "but it's troubling that they won't release the reports."

The Office of Internal Audit, which is part of the County Executive's Office, used to review all expense reports filed by executive branch officials. However, the office's budget has been slashed over the last several years and Dyckman has no staff to audit. The budget totals $441,000 for the current fiscal year, $220,000 less than last year and half of the budget from two years ago.

Now individual department heads oversee all non-travel expenses for their own departments, and the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer in the County Executive's Office oversees travel expenses.

Fariba Kassiri, the staff member in charge of approving travel expenses, said she occasionally requests supporting documentation for expenses.

The Department of Finance conducts the final review and issues any reimbursements.

"You audit when there's complaints," said Patrick Lacefield, spokesman for County Executive Ike Leggett. "You audit when there may be questions."

According to Lacefield, auditing expense reports "would be prohibitive" and is unnecessary. Expense reports were audited in the years when resources were less scarce, but for the last three years, formal audits have been too expensive, he said. It is important to consider "what the return will be" on oversight.

He explained that although the County Executive's Office doesn't technically "audit" expenses, it does "examine" them.

"We'll certainly look at doing more auditing when we can afford to."

rbaye@washingtonexaminer.com