Department of Agriculture
April 2, 2018
The Department of Agriculture is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on a Corrective Action Plan that will address the concerns identified by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) in its recently published audit.
Every five years, the OIG audits Agriculture’s federal grants. A point that was focused on by the media is the department claimed only $4.58 million of $7.23 million-plus in federal grants. We did want to clarify that though this was noted in the report, it was NOT a finding, and that most of these grants were either ongoing, or they had been extended. The bottom line is these federal monies are still being used.
While the OIG reported that “the Department complied, in general, with applicable grant accounting and regulatory requirements” it did note concerns, which will be addressed in detail in the Corrective Action Plan.
The report states that the Department:
• had no established sufficient internal controls over employee time reports,
• had not submitted Federal Financial Reports in a timely manner,
• had not maintained complete property records for assets acquired with grant funds or hunting and fishing license revenues.
To those three points, we wanted to note that the Department of Agriculture’s last Administrative Officer retired in 2016. Since then they hired two people to take on those duties both of whom left for higher paying jobs. This meant that certain reports weren’t completed or questions on why certain reports were done in a certain way couldn’t be fully explained. That position is still vacant today and the Department continues to find a replacement via the competitive process.
The OIG report also stated that grant-funded vehicles weren’t used specifically for official business. Department officials immediately investigated the findings, corrective actions were taken.
The Department of Agriculture, via the Division of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources, has been part of Federal program since the 1950’s. As part of the program, federal audits are required to summarize awards, and note areas that need improvement in relation to accountability, and program mandates.
The intent of the audit is to provide a pathway to correcting practices or addressing deficiencies before they become major issues. The Federal Auditor had identified areas that included – Federal reporting in a timely manner, maintenance of inventory, adequate controls of vehicle use, assent legislation, and use of funded building in conflict with its intent.
For further information, please contact Celestino F. Aguon, DoAg Division of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources (DAWR) Chief, or Jay T. Gutierrez, DAWR Assistant Chief, at (671) 734-0281/94.
MATTHEW L.G. SABLAN
Department of Agriculture