Local money found to shore up TAO after ARRA funds reprogrammed
The Territorial Audit Office (TAO) is back to being fully funded for fiscal year 2012 after the agency got a reduction of stimulus money in FY 2011 causing concern that it may not have enough to money to cover expenses for (among other things) the salary of the Territorial Auditor at the end of FY 2011 heading into the current fiscal year.
Territorial Auditor Robert Dantini told Samoa News yesterday that Gov. Togiola Tulafono stepped in to provide local funds for FY 2012.
Concerns over TAO funding were cited in the agency's fourth quarter performance report for FY 2011, which states that subsequent to its FY 2011 budget submittal, $104,000 of TAO's $250,000 had been reallocated to other projects and activities. The $250K for TAO had been received under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
TAO requested that the reduced ARRA allocation be supplanted with a corresponding amount of its Interior Department Technical Assistant grant funds-which were originally planned for expenditures in FY 2012.
"Even if the reallocation is approved by DOI, our budget shortage will be postponed until FY 2012. At that time, TAO will need additional local or grant funds to sustain our existing level of operations," the report says. "Without additional funding, we will not be able to fund; either the two new auditors, or the position of Territorial Auditor."
Responding to Samoa News inquiries, Dantini says he is not sure who was responsible for reprogramming TAO's ARRA funds.
"This reprogramming required TAO to use more DOI technical assistance funds - which were initially intended to be used in 2012," he explained. "Because the remaining technical assistance funds were not sufficient to fully fund our FY 2012 operating costs as originally planned, the Governor allocated more local funding to our office to make up the difference."
"Bottom line is that we are now fully funded to meet our FY 2012 operating expenses," he added.
"Low core competence of some career service staff continues to provide substantial limitations on the complexity of audits they can work on," the report says. "Due to our relatively small audit staff, we are constrained from providing the extent of audit coverage desirable for an entity of this size."
"Our largest impediments are best summarized as complacency from some agencies, in responding to our requests for documents and information. Our work can only move forward when we obtain complete cooperation and timely responses to our request," the report points out. "We still encounter delays or no response to our requests. This negatively affects our productivity and ability to provide much needed audit services."
Despite the non-cooperation from agencies and departments, TAO was able to conduct in the 4th quarter of FY 2011 cash count audits of the Department of Agriculture and Department of Parks and Recreation - and these two projects are in various stages of progress.
TAO has also initiated performance audits of sole source procurement covering ARRA grants receivables which "involves examining sole source contracts which were awarded with ARRA Funds, to determine whether local and federal contracting requirements were complied with".
Additionally, performance audit is ongoing for Motor Pool gasoline use and controls, Department of Port Administration fees and review of the Territorial Office of Fiscal Reform.