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Inspector General Says Board of Education Audit Is a Work in Progress

Members of the Board of Education answer senators' questions during Tuesday's hearing. (Photo by Barry Leerdam for the V.I. Legislature)
Arah Lockhart and other members of the Board of Education answer senators’ questions during an April legislative hearing. (V.I. Legislature photo by Barry Leerdam)

The inspector general of the Virgin Islands said Wednesday his agency is not responsible for the release of an audit report on the Board of Education. Inspector General Steven Van Beverhoudt said the document that became public late last week was a draft that was handed over to the top board official to share with other board members.

Unlike other audit reports that can be found on the Office of the Inspector General’s website at www.viig.org, the VIBE audit isn’t there. Van Beverhoudt said that’s because at the time it was made public it was incomplete.

“That was a preliminary draft, based on what I read. I know, because of the numbers. We delivered the draft report on Friday and since then, the numbers have changed,” he said. “It wasn’t released by us.”

In fact, the inspector general said, if the audit had run the typical course, it would have been released towards the start of 2020.

When asked how he thought the information in the audit fell into the hands of two local newspapers, the inspector general said he wasn’t sure. An opinion piece appearing online at V.I. Source attributed to executive officers of the board said they believed the document was leaked.

The executive officers also said they intend to complete the steps that will complete the audit process and lead to the release of the finalized report.

At the time that the draft became public, the inspector general’s audit team had conducted an exit conference with board officials. The next step calls for the subject agency to submit a reply to the auditors.

Typically the agency’s written reply describes what they agree with, what they disagree with and what they have done to implement steps spelled out in the recommendations portion of the report.

“We are requesting a response by Dec. 13,” Van Beverhoudt said. Once it reaches the Inspector General’s Office, it is incorporated into the report.

While the subject agency prepares its reply, auditors compare information gathered in the exit interview to their findings and adjust as needed.

The last step comes when the summary is added and a cover letter is attached.

In a typical year, the Inspector General’s Office may issue between three and four audits. In their opinion piece, Board of Education executives said they requested the internal review of its financial and administrative operations.

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