Ohio Department of Natural Resources Performance Audit

Final Report Shows Value of Data Collection

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Columbus – A review of fee and seasonal workforce structures could result in savings and additional revenue for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), according to the final performance audit released today by Auditor of State Dave Yost. In total, the report’s recommendations could create an annual financial impact of $8,294,327 and one-time savings of $3,940,606.

“This performance audit is a blueprint for long-term gains in efficiency and savings,” Auditor Yost said. “Some of these recommendations require tough decisions, which may include a phase-in period, but fees should be driven by the market. 

“ODNR appreciates the efforts of the Auditor’s office in assisting the department as we work to identify areas where we can be more cost-effective,” said ODNR Director James Zehringer. “We are already considering many of the suggestions offered and will continue to strive to provide Ohioans an efficient agency that provides a great return on their investment.”

Recommendations were made in the following operational areas:

Wildlife Licenses and Participation

Determining appropriate fees for fishing and hunting permits should include comparisons to fees of surrounding states and measures of inflation. Current conditions show that some of Ohio’s permit fees are lower than surrounding states and have not kept up with inflation. Auditors identified opportunities in some cases to raise fees, and other cases to potentially lower fees through bundling the sale of permits. One example could increase annual revenues by $1,748,000.

The audit recommends that ODNR consider these factors to determine appropriate service fees.

Parks and Recreation Operations – Overnight Accommodations 

ODNR could similarly determine appropriate fees for its 9,543 overnight accommodations by analyzing the frequency of sell-out nights, the pricing of privately-owned overnight accommodations, and inflation. Auditors determined that increasing fees to reflect inflation could increase annual revenue by $1,590,386.

The audit recommends that ODNR consider these factors to determine appropriate service fees.

Seasonal Workforce Strategies

Optimizing its seasonal workforce strategy could save ODNR $393,094 annually by reducing the off-season cost of unemployment compensation. This could be accomplished by fully utilizing the Natural Resource Specialist position and converting the Natural Resource Worker position from seasonal to year-round.

A full copy of this performance audit may be accessed online.



The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio, is responsible for auditing more than 5,800 state and local government agencies.  Under the direction of Auditor Dave Yost, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigates and prevents fraud in public agencies and promotes transparency in government.

Brittany Halpin
Press Secretary