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September 07 10:12 AM

State Auditor: OSL does not have an up-to-date, comprehensive list of State of Louisiana’s property

Auditors examining whether the Officer of State Lands (OSL) has a current and comprehensive listing of state lands found that it does not.

Under state law, the Commissioner of Administration is required to maintain an inventory of all immovable property in which the state has an interest, including all lands, water bottoms and facilities, both owned and leased, and to keep the inventory as “current and comprehensive as is practicable.” OSL is responsible for maintaining and updating the inventory and for identifying and keeping a master list of all the state’s public lands and water bottoms.

Auditors found that the inventory as recorded on the LaGov system did not match state agency immovable property records for 58 (45 percent) of the 128 properties tested. This was due, in part, to agencies not providing accurate information to OSL.

In addition, the inventory did not include all types of properties in which the state has an interest. As a result, OSL and other entities cannot rely on the inventory to make decision and properly manage the state’s land resources.

In addition, auditors found that OSL did not have an accurate and complete listing of the tax-adjudicated properties the state owns, nor was this information easily accessible to stakeholders. This makes it difficult to determine whether the state is receiving all of the mineral royalties to which it is entitled from these properties and whether these properties also are being claimed by private individuals.

Auditors found as well that the state did not have clear title to an estimated 286,467 acres of water bottoms because private parties also claim ownership of these lands. These “dual-claimed” water bottoms can result in several issues, including restricted public access, negative economic impacts and potentially reduced revenue-generating opportunities. This report is the first of two reports evaluating OSL and its operations.

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