Many public management audits don't amount to much, but when they do find evidence of malfeasance or questionable practices, they can lead to some severe consequences and major management decisions:

--In Hawaii, a state auditor's report questioned accounting and spending practices at the Visitors and Convention Bureau, including about $1,000 in personal expenses its chief executive, Tony Vericella, had charged to the bureau. Vericella has resigned and is paying back the money. But now the bureau as a whole is suffering. It lost out for the first time on the bidding to run marketing programs in Japan, Europe, Oceania and other parts of Asia. Frank Haas, director of tourism marketing at the Hawaii Tourism Authority, which oversees the HVCB, says that the decision to farm out the contracts was not "directly related" to the audit, although, he adds, it pointed out many inefficiencies. Since the disclosure of those inefficiencies, the bureau has been reorganized.

--An internal audit in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, found that its Community Development Department, which built and renovated houses, had been spending money without authority and had bad cost overruns. Despite all the problems, according to county general manager Bobbie Shields, the audit was just one factor in the decision to shut down the department. A bigger issue was the fact that the program had shrunk in size, reflecting the paucity of unincorporated land left in the county. Now, municipalities will be able to apply for housing grants from the county through the Centralia Council of Governments.