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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, August 16, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesWILL TURNBULL SHRUG AT CONTRACT AUDIT?

WILL TURNBULL SHRUG AT CONTRACT AUDIT?

The V.I. Bureau of Audit and Control has issued another scathing audit detailing how the V.I. government spends — or, rather, misspends — taxpayer money.
The latest audit was on professional service contracts. It is an area that many people knew was rife with abuse, but few were aware just how bad it was. Inspector General Steven van Beverhoudt summed it up by saying the V.I. government "has lost control" over awarding and managing these contracts.
And there are hundreds of them.
The audit contained wrenching details:
— In fiscal years 1996 and 1997, the Property and Procurement Department processed 479 professional contracts. Think about that number — 479 contracts, many of them to do work that employees already on the government payroll could and should have done.
— Despite producing computer lists showing 479 contracts for those two years, Property and Procurement officials could provide files for only 334 contracts. That left 145 contracts with no files for the auditors to review. Do those files exist? If so, where are they? If not, why not? Was someone conveniently unable to find them? Did those missing files include politically sensitive contracts?
— The value of those 479 contracts was $108 million. Think about that number — $108 million. And you wonder why we have such a huge deficit? You wonder why we can't afford to pay union workers their back raises?
Van Beverhoudt detailed numerous instances of professional contracts that he believes violated V.I. laws, including Alicia Barnes' two-year $200,000 contract that was signed the day she left her government post. That contract, he said, thumbed its nose at the territory's conflict-of-interest law.
But van Beverhoudt is not a lawyer, and he has no lawyers on his meager staff. So he has turned over a number of legally questionable cases unearthed in his audit to Attorney General Iver Stridiron for review and possible prosecution.
If Stridiron follows the path of his predecessors, that's the last we'll ever hear of this matter. He will let the issue die, and no one will pay a price for any wrongdoing. If that happens, it will be a sign to the Turnbull administration and its minions that people can continue to bend or break the law and get away with it, and that the V.I. government will continue to do business as usual when it comes to misspending public money.
On the other hand, if Stridiron does prosecute one or more cases brought to light by this audit, it would send a powerful message throughout the halls of government, and in the community, that it really is a new day in the Virgin Islands when it comes to upholding the letter and spirit of the law.
Wouldn't that be refreshing?
We welcome your comments on this editorial or related issues. Send your views to St. Thomas Source via e-mail at source@viaccess.net.

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The V.I. Bureau of Audit and Control has issued another scathing audit detailing how the V.I. government spends — or, rather, misspends — taxpayer money.
The latest audit was on professional service contracts. It is an area that many people knew was rife with abuse, but few were aware just how bad it was. Inspector General Steven van Beverhoudt summed it up by saying the V.I. government "has lost control" over awarding and managing these contracts.
And there are hundreds of them.
The audit contained wrenching details:
— In fiscal years 1996 and 1997, the Property and Procurement Department processed 479 professional contracts. Think about that number — 479 contracts, many of them to do work that employees already on the government payroll could and should have done.
— Despite producing computer lists showing 479 contracts for those two years, Property and Procurement officials could provide files for only 334 contracts. That left 145 contracts with no files for the auditors to review. Do those files exist? If so, where are they? If not, why not? Was someone conveniently unable to find them? Did those missing files include politically sensitive contracts?
— The value of those 479 contracts was $108 million. Think about that number — $108 million. And you wonder why we have such a huge deficit? You wonder why we can't afford to pay union workers their back raises?
Van Beverhoudt detailed numerous instances of professional contracts that he believes violated V.I. laws, including Alicia Barnes' two-year $200,000 contract that was signed the day she left her government post. That contract, he said, thumbed its nose at the territory's conflict-of-interest law.
But van Beverhoudt is not a lawyer, and he has no lawyers on his meager staff. So he has turned over a number of legally questionable cases unearthed in his audit to Attorney General Iver Stridiron for review and possible prosecution.
If Stridiron follows the path of his predecessors, that's the last we'll ever hear of this matter. He will let the issue die, and no one will pay a price for any wrongdoing. If that happens, it will be a sign to the Turnbull administration and its minions that people can continue to bend or break the law and get away with it, and that the V.I. government will continue to do business as usual when it comes to misspending public money.
On the other hand, if Stridiron does prosecute one or more cases brought to light by this audit, it would send a powerful message throughout the halls of government, and in the community, that it really is a new day in the Virgin Islands when it comes to upholding the letter and spirit of the law.
Wouldn't that be refreshing?
We welcome your comments on this editorial or related issues. Send your views to St. Thomas Source via e-mail at source@viaccess.net.