According to The Virginian-Pilot, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (VDCR) is facing a major audit from the Virginia Auditor of Public Accounts (APA) after federal government monitors spotted recordkeeping gaps on grants of nearly $740,000.
This month, the APA will launch a top-to-bottom audit of the VDCR, which oversees Virginia state parks and dams, land conservation efforts and Chesapeake Bay-related water pollution controls. The VDCR has 370 employees and a $139 million budget.
Other agencies are also keeping tabs on the VDCR, including the state Inspector General’s office. Before he left office, former Gov. Bob McDonnell proposed a $75,000 amendment in the state budget to audit the agency.
"That's probably an inadequate amount of money," Virginia Sen. John Watkins (R-Powhatan) said. "I think it's going to have to be a full-blown audit firm to come in and literally take the agency accounting apart and put it back together the way it needs to be."
In November, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) notified the VDCR that it could be liable for more than $400,000 in grants due to what FEMA deemed “significant deficiencies” in the state program. A FEMA review said that the agency “lacks effective internal controls and accountability for all grants” and that there is no interface between the department’s financial management system and the state’s accounting reporting system.
The VDCR was given a deadline of Dec. 20, 2013, to document how it used the money and until Jan. 15 to deliver a corrective action plan to FEMA. VDCR spokesman Gary Waugh said the state has met those deadlines and expects to be relieved of any potential financial penalties from FEMA.
Last week, a FEMA official confirmed that the state had responded with a corrective action plan and that a federal response is in the works.
Virginia Auditor of Public Accounts Martha Mavredes, CPA, a VSCPA member, warned McDonnell about the grant issues in December. She called FEMA’s observations regarding the grants “consistent with those of my staff in our preliminary review.”
During last year’s session, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation transferring the administration of numerous state water quality programs to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ). Responsibility for about $8 million in grants will move to the VDEQ.