OKLAHOMA CITY - The state Auditor Gary Jones has released the Special Investigative Audit requested last by year by the Emergency Medical Services Authority Board of Trustees.

The audit looked at potential conflicts of interest between EMSA executives or personnel and various vendors, billing and collection practices, and assessed expenditures for economy and public purpose among other items.

"We took a close look at things with a view toward EMSA's effectiveness and efficiency of operation," said State Auditor Gary Jones. "Frankly, EMSA is a public entity that provides industry leading medical transport for people during critical life moments. It has also engaged in questionable, extravagant spending without regard for the public interest and its rate payers specifically. These excessive, and we believe unwarranted, expenditures are the very thing that erode public trust because they do nothing to promote accountability."

According to the news release, Gary Jones says the report recommends the implementation and utilization of policies involving purchasing, expense reimbursement, and conflict of interest disclosure.

The report cited the absence of these policies as resulting in the unintentional fostering of a culture of inappropriate spending practices and a failure to report potential conflicts of interest to members of the board.

EMSA provided a statement in response to the report:

"The audit, released this afternoon, was requested by the EMSA board, as part of our efforts in past months to improve the organization's overall practices and policies," said Lillian Perryman, chairwoman of the EMSA board.

"We requested it because we wanted specific areas evaluated by a third party and look forward to seeing their recommendations. We are still reviewing the report and it will be discussed in detail in tomorrow's board meeting.

"The board and EMSA management must review the report and recommendations made by the State Auditor in detail and make decisions based on what is best for the citizens of the communities served by EMSA. What we do with the information is the critical piece of the audit process and we will be committed to improving organizational practices. The quality of care delivered by our service to our citizens in the Tulsa and Oklahoma City areas is excellent and has never been called into question.

"Any recommendations will be evaluated and acted upon rapidly in the next few months, as appropriate. All of this discussion will happen in open, public meetings at board and committee meetings."

As noted in the statement above, the topic will be discussed tomorrow at EMSA's regularly scheduled, open board meeting.