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Audit questions reliability of Md. agricultural data

ANNAPOLIS — Maryland auditors say a database of state land acquisitions to preserve agriculture has not been tested for reliability.

The audit, made public on Thursday, says the state’s database of easement acquisitions recorded a cumulative cost of acquisitions to be $588 million, as of June 30, 2011. That exceeded the corresponding total in the state’s records by $31 million.

The audit concluded there was a lack of assurance that all easement costs were properly accounted for and recorded in the database and in the state’s records.

The state’s agriculture department says the database has been tested. It also says procedures have been put in place to reconcile purchases with the state’s accounting records. The department says a test is being developed to verify the accuracy of the database.