Semiannual IG Report Details Inspection Actions

The inspector general (IG) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Wednesday released a summary of its activities for the last two fiscal quarters, reporting it identified questionable costs,faulty disaster grants, and criminal frauds.

In total, for the period of Oct. 1, 2009 to March 31, 2010, the IG office published 76 management reports with recommendations agreed to by DHS 93 percent of the time, said the summary, contained in the office’s Semiannual Report to the Congress.

The reports detailed $25.7 million in questionable costs, eventually revealing $3.4 million in unsupported expenditures. The IG further recovered $11.4 million from prohibited costs detailed in previous audits and other investigations.

DHS agreed to reallocate $4.2 million in disaster grant assistance, thereby putting those funds to other uses.

The IG also produced 369 investigative reports, started another 705 investigations, and closed out 551 additional investigations. The office’s investigations resulted in 148 arrests, 122 indictments, 155 convictions, and 37 personnel actions. DHS collected $117.8 million in fines and recompense, cost savings, and other activities as a result of the investigative reports.

Management reports tackled a range of initiatives including large programs at DHS. The IG office examined DHS contracts awarded in other than full and open competition in fiscal 2009, for example, finding that acquisition personnel in the Management Directorate did not always obey federal regulations when awarding the noncompetitive contracts.

The DHS chief procurement officer agreed to institute stronger controls over noncompetitive awards as a result of the report, DHS Contracts Awarded Through Other Than Full and Open Competition During Fiscal Year 2009.

In another case, the IG office turned its eyes toward FEMA’s Public Assistance Program, determining that FEMA should improve its oversight of hazard mitigation grant funding and identifying challenges in implementing a strategy to delivery hazard mitigation assistance in Louisiana in the report, Gulf Coast Recovery: FEMA’s Management of the Hazard Mitigation Component of the Public Assistance Program.

The IG also examined one of the biggest programs at DHS, determining that chief contractor Boeing Co. had not met its small business hiring requirements in its execution of the Secure Border Initiative Network (SBInet) in the report, CBP Faces Challenges in Achieving Its Goals for Small Business Participation in Secure Border Initiative Network. US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) ultimately did not agree with a recommendation to monitor Boeing’s efforts to meet small business goals in the SBInet contract.

Recovery Act

One of the biggest ongoing areas of focus during the six-month period covered by the report to Congress was roughly $3 billion in funds allocated to DHS under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5).

The IG office examined the Recovery Act spending of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), US Coast Guard, and CBP in separate reports.

In its Review of Transportation Security Administration’s Expenditure Plan: Explosives Detection Systems and Equipment, the IG office found that $1 billion in stimulus funds allocated to TSA were being spent in a manner that was practical and comprehensive. The report warned, however, that the lack of contingency plans for buying equipment not yet certified by the Transportation Security Laboratory could cause delays.

It also found that TSA’s plans did not meet an overall Recovery Act goal of using 50 percent of allocated stimulus funds for activities that could be initiated by June 17, 2009. TSA disagreed with that observation.

A Review of US Coast Guard’s Expenditure Plans for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 also found that agency developed sound plans for spending stimulus money.

Despite doing well with its spending planning overall, the Coast Guard’s spending plans for shore facilities, vessels, and alteration of bridges did not meet the goal of using 50 percent of stimulus funds by June 17, 2009, a date set as a guide to quickly deliver stimulus funds into the economy and thus provide immediate job opportunities for American workers.

Finally, the Review of US Customs and Border Protection’s Expenditure Plans for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 also generally approved of that agency’s plans to spend money on tactical communications, modernization, border security technology, inspection equipment, and construction of land ports of entry.

CBP also failed to meet the quick start date of June 17, 2009, to obligate 50 percent of its stimulus funds. The agency agreed with a recommendation to coordinate its purchases with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement to maximize their combined spending power.

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