The Office of the Virgin Islands Inspector General has issued the audit of the Department of Education’s (Education) claims and reimbursement procedures for the School Lunch Program. The audit objectives were to: (i) determine whether the School Food Authorities (Authorities) have effective internal controls in place to ensure that districts’ meals offered and served comply with USDA nutrition and pattern requirements; (ii) assess whether the Authorities had sufficient internal controls to ensure that meal claims for reimbursement were completely and accurately reported; (iii) determine whether performance measures were established to ensure that decreases in claims were promptly assessed and corrective actions were taken; and, (iv) determine whether the Authorities have pursued opportunities for the districts to receive additional federal funds to help support the School Lunch Program. We found that within Education, there was a pervasive culture of non-compliance with federal regulations that govern the reimbursement of meals served in the Virgin Islands school system. Specifically, our audit found that: (i) federal reimbursement and entitlement food decreased during 2013 to 2015 school years; (ii) internal controls were not established to ensure that meal reimbursement claims were accurate and met federal guidelines; (iii) Education officials did not effectively maximize opportunities to obtain additional federal funds to sustain the School Lunch Program; and, (iv) Education officials did not ensure that meals offered and served complied with USDA nutrition and pattern requirements. We attributed these conditions to the reduction in student participation in the school meal program. As well as, Education officials: (i) not implementing recommended strategies to boost student participation; (ii) not establishing policies and procedures; (iii) not addressing the problem of poorly trained employees and understaffing; (iv) turning a blind eye to obvious non-reimbursable meal claims; (v) being placed in a position of a conflict of interest; (vi) continued non-compliance with federal regulations; and, (vii) not ensuring the availability and correct serving of menu items. As result: (i) over the three academic school years of our audit scope, there has been a funding loss of $1.7 million dollars; (ii) over 95,000 meals were improperly claimed, with anywhere from $32,000 to $259,000 in funds being placed in jeopardy of repayment to the USDA; (iii) unnecessary pressure may be placed on the territory’s local funds budgeted for the School Lunch Program; (iv) the territory lost certification that resulted in the loss of $206,000 in additional reimbursements; and, (v) students did not always receive the recommended daily nutritional supplement to aid in their academic performance and maintain good health. To view the report, click here.
Virgin Islands Inspector General Steven van Beverhoudt submitted comments to the Virgin Islands Legislature’s Committee on Rules and Judiciary on Bill 32-0003, an act to create the Virgin Islands Commission on Ethics and Conflicts of Interest. The VI Inspector General had no position for or against the proposal; however, the need for a Government-wide Code of Ethics and Conduct was noted. In addition, there was a concern on the compensation provision of the proposal. To view the V I Inspector General’s Comments, click here.
Virgin Islands Inspector General Steven van Beverhoudt presented to the Committee on Finance the proposed Fiscal Year 2018 Budget for the operations of the Office of the Virgin Islands Inspector General. V. I. Inspector General van Beverhoudt is proposing a funding level of $2.023 million, which is 10% lower than the level provided in Fiscal Year 2017. To see the Virgin Islands Inspector General’s Testimony, click here.
The final defendant in the property tax auction scheme settled to a civil claim of $500,000 to the VI Government. To see the Press Release from the Attorney General, click here.
Three of the four defendants in the property tax auction scheme were sentenced. To see the Press Release from the Attorney General, click here.
The Office of the Virgin Islands Inspector General has issued the audit of the Department of Education’s (Education) inventory controls over the School Lunch Program. The audit objectives were to determine if Education: (i) administered its inventory systems for the School Lunch Program in accordance with established criteria; and, (ii) had controls in place to effectively safeguard and monitor School Lunch Program inventories. We found that Education officials did not adequately administer and manage the School Lunch Program inventory systems in accordance with established criteria and best practices. In addition, they did not adequately implement proper internal controls and safeguards to protect the inventory from the risk of loss due to fraud, theft, or negligence. Although there were some recent changes in the administration and management of the School Lunch Program, significant deficiencies still exist. Specifically, the audit found that Education officials: (i) did not maintain complete, accurate, consistent and current records of the receipt, distribution, and warehousing of inventory; (ii) modified or adjusted inventory records without proper or written justification; (iii) were negligent in securing and accounting for inventory received, delivered, stored, and/or used at district warehouses and schools; (iv) did not always conduct monthly and annual inventory reconciliations as required; (v) did not properly segregate warehouse duties; (vi) did not ensure that schools’ inventory management practices in the districts were uniform and consistent with federal and state requirements; (vii) used a system for ordering food items and planning cycle menus that was ineffective and inefficient; (viii) did not implement key recommendations made by a management and consulting firm; (ix) did not ensure the timely and complete installation and implementation of food service management software; (x) did not ensure that warehouse and school personnel had been given sufficient training to use the software; and, (xi) have failed at all levels of the department in their responsibility to ensure that the School Lunch Program was functioning in an efficient and effective manner. As a result: (i) Education officials did not accurately know the actual total values and quantities of inventory on hand as of specific times; (ii) School Lunch Program inventory was susceptible to the risk of loss due to negligence or unauthorized use; (iii) Education officials could not properly forecast and plan the ordering of food items to meet monthly cycle menu requirements; (iv) students participating in the School Lunch Program may not have been receiving meals with the nutritional value and requirements specified by the federal government; (v) Education officials expended more than $920,000 for consulting services and food management software and have not aggressively resolved issues to improve School Lunch Program operations; and, (vi) an inefficient and ineffective School Lunch Program has continued for decades, and unless significant improvements are made, the School Lunch Program will continue to be susceptible to fraud, waste and abuse. To view the report, click here.
A third defendant charged in the property tax auction scheme has pled guilty. Two other defendants had previously pled guilty to their involvement in the scheme. To see the Press Release from the Attorney General, click here.
The 31st Legislature unanimously confirmed Steven van Beverhoudt for a fifth term as the Virgin Islands Inspector General, on December 20, 2016. Mr.van Beverhoudt has served as the first Virgin Islands Inspector General since March of 1989.
Virgin Islands Inspector General-nominee Steven van Beverhoudt testified before the Virgin Islands Legislature’s Committee on Rules on his nomination to serve a 5th term as the Virgin Islands Inspector General. Mr. van Beverhoudt received unanimous support from the senators present. To see Mr. van Beverhoudt’s testimony, click here.
The Office of the Virgin Islands Inspector General released its Fiscal Year 2017 Audit Plan. Among the various audits planned for 2017, the V. I. Inspector General’s Office hopes to complete seven projects still in progress during Fiscal Year 2016, to include: the Audit of the Controls over the Department of Education’s School Lunch Program, the Audit of the Child Nutrition Programs Claims and Reimbursement Controls, the Audit of the Public Finance Authority (Joint Project OVIIG/OIG-DOI), the Follow-up on the Handling of Funds Received During the Property Tax Auctions, the Audit of the Administrative Functions of the Casino Control Commission, the Audit of the Administrative Functions of the Board of Education, and the Audit of the Executive Branch’s Use of Credit Instruments. To view the 2017 Audit Plan, Click here.