Mississippi government can't help itself. Democrat Republican Black White Commie Klukker SJW Dittohead male female. It doesn't matter who is in charge, he or she is going to figure out how to rip off everyone else. The Feds came calling, took a look at nearly $30 million in FEMA grants, and suspended the remaining grant payments. Some allegations will be very familiar to anyone who knows anything about Mississippi government:
Mississippi did not provide proper oversight of a $29.9 million grant for the Hazard Mitigation Program. As a result, FEMA has no assurance that Mississippi properly accounted for and expended Federal funds. Specifically, Mississippi (Move over Jackson and West Rankin Utility Authority. Make some room on that Group W bench.)
*allowed one employee complete authority over the Program, which influenced the approval of completion of work and payments to contractors (Who would've thunk it?)
*contends it has spent $31.5 million in state funds to complete work on 945 of the estimated 2,000 homes but has claimed only $957,776 for FEMA reimbursement; (I'm shocked, shocked mind you. This is more proof of the current and past Governor's approach to law enforcement in general. Unqualified good ole boys who treat their departments and employees as fiefdoms and serfs to be ruled with no accountability to anyone.)
*has not provided documentation to support $30.5 million paid to contractors. (Doc-u-men-tat-ion. Well it is a five-syllable word. Five syllable words are not recognized in Mississippi.)
*Mississippi allowed one employee complete authority over the Program, which influenced approval of completion of work and authorization of payments to contractors. Although Mississippi became aware of improper oversight as early as December 2014, it did not take any actions to stop or mitigate the problem until February 2016—after we initiated this audit and we had preliminary discussions with them on our findings. (No comment needed.)
*Before September 2012, the Mississippi Department of Finance (DFA) was responsible for managing the Program as MEMA’s subgrantee. DFA allowed one of its employees total control over the Program, which, in our opinion, created a breakdown in Mississippi’s accounting controls. In September 2012, this employee, along with responsibility for the Program, transferred to MEMA. While working for DFA and MEMA, according to Mississippi officials, this employee approved and influenced other State employees to process $31,475,706 in payments—more than the amount of the grant—using state funds for 945 of the estimated 2,000 homes within the project’s scope. In addition, according to MEMA officials, these actions may have circumvented the State’s accounting controls....
*Mississippi has only requested $957,776 in FEMA reimbursement because the employee did not allow a contracted accounting firm to reconcile payments of $30,517,930 in invoices. However, no one above the employee’s authority questioned the situation. Finally, in February 2016—after we initiated this audit—the newly appointed Executive Director of MEMA took actions to improve program oversight by firing several employees, securing program records, and coordinating with the Mississippi State Attorney General’s Office... (Wait, he blocked the accounting firm? This guy IS going to be prosecuted if the evidence warrants, such, RIGHT?)
*MEMA contends that it completed work on 945 homes—less than half of the 2,000 homes estimated in the project’s approved scope of work—and paid contractors $31,475,706 forthat work. This amount is $1,586,999 more than the entire $29,888,707 grant. According to the approved scope of work, retrofitting each home against wind damage would cost $14,944 on average($29,888,707 divided by 2,000). However, according to MEMA, retrofitting the 945 homes has cost$33,308 on average ($31,475,706 divided by 945), a 123 percent increase over the original estimate. MEMA did not provide any substantial evidence to justify the increase in costs. Further, the one employee who had complete control of the Program would not allow us or Mississippi officials access to the contractors’ invoices totaling $30,517,930. (That's right, she stood up to the Feds and wouldn't let them look at anything. Can't imagine why.)
Kingfish note: Therese Apel worked on the story for the CL. Sorry, but she is a former MEMA employee. She is a good reporter but she should not have been allowed to work on it.
Meanwhile, there better be some prosecutions. Mississippi's state law enforcement agencies are barely better run than JPS.