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Friday, December 22, 2006

Multiple DHS agencies may have violated funding law

Auditor KPMG warned the Homeland Security Department of multiple potential violations of a fiscal law barring agencies from spending money in excess of appropriations, according to a new report from the department's inspector general.

The report, released Wednesday, identified two DHS agencies as having possibly violated the Anti-Deficiency Act, though it did not describe the violations.

Transportation Security Administration managers "concluded that a violation of the Anti-Deficiency Act may have occurred in fiscal years prior to 2006," the IG said, and DHS' Federal Law Enforcement Training Center "initiated a review of the classification of certain liabilities, recorded in their accounting records, that may identify a violation of the [act]." The report did not specify a time frame in which the alleged violations may have occurred.

Earlier this week, Government Executive reported that Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau officials expressed concern in an internal memorandum that the agency had violated the Anti-Deficiency Act by providing the U.S. Customs and Border Protection bureau, also within DHS, with non-reimbursed detainee transportation services.

DHS as a whole, and four agencies within the department, have financial reporting problems so significant that there's insufficient data to determine how far their problems reach, KPMG told the inspector general's office.

The DHS Office of Financial Management, the Coast Guard, TSA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and ICE "were unable to provide sufficient evidence to support account balances," DHS Inspector General Richard Skinner told Michael Chertoff, the department's secretary, in a letter that accompanied the report.

The inspectors credited ICE for achieving the "greatest improvement in financial management and reporting" over fiscal 2006, but stated that the agency "has not completely resolved its internal control problems."

In his letter to Chertoff, the IG wrote that Coast Guard officials "acknowledged to the auditors that long-standing procedural, control, personnel and cultural issues existed" and that "progress has been slow" to resolve management and reporting issues.

The department's chief financial officer, David Norquist, responded to Skinner with a letter acknowledging "continued and serious challenges." Norquist said the department will soon publish plans for corrective actions.

-Jonathan Marino, GovExec.com

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