The Buzz

Missouri auditor hits Highway Patrol for aircraft purchase, other problems

Missouri auditor

Tom Schweich

says the

Missouri Highway Patrol

should have thought a bit harder about its aircraft needs — and taxpayers — before shelling out $5.6 million for a new aircraft.

The conclusion

comes in a new audit released Tuesday

, which also criticizes several other aspects of the Patrol’s management.

“The Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) did not perform a formal written analysis to justify the need to purchase an additional airplane, or to purchase a new airplane instead of a much less expensive used airplane,” Schweich writes. “An analysis of demand, usage, and fleet availability prior to making significant purchasing decisions would help demonstrate the need for any future additions to the state airplane fleet. In addition, although not required by law, the MSHP should consider informing the legislature of its intent to make significant purchases by including them as decision items in its budget.”

Overall, the audit rates the Highway Patrol as “fair”: “This entity needs to improve operations in several areas.”

The Patrol’s response on the airplane:

“The Patrol did conduct a thorough analysis of needs and usage before purchasing the 2012 King Air 250 for the reduced price of $5.59 million...

“... The Patrol also studied the feasibility of purchasing a new airplane versus a used one. The report mentions that auditors noted a used airplane with a lower asking price than the price of the airplane purchased by the Patrol, but it is important to realize that purchasing a used airplane is much different than purchasing, for instance, a used car.

“Multiple factors were taken into consideration, including airplane-specific training for pilots and mechanics that is included in the cost of this airplane, the elaborate and costly inspection process involved with purchasing a used airplane, and ongoing training requirements associated with purchasing a used airplane that is notably different than the rest of the Patrol”s fleet...

“... After careful consideration of all aspects, and evaluating the costs and benefits involved with each,the Patrol concluded that the purchase of this airplane would provide the best investment.”