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We audited the St. Tammany Parish grants department’s administration of its Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) disaster recovery program, as part of our annual audit plan to review the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013 funds.  Our objective was to determine whether the Parish administered its disaster recovery program in accordance with U.S. Department of Housing and Development (HUD) requirements and in line with its certifications to HUD for its procurement; detection of fraud, waste, and abuse; and Web site maintenance. 

We found that the Parish did not always administer its disaster recovery program in accordance with HUD requirements and in line with its certifications to HUD.  Specifically, it did not (1) support that it performed an independent cost estimate and adequate cost analyses or maintained complete procurement files; (2) maintain a complete monitoring policy and finalize and fully implement its policy to aid in detecting fraud, waste, and abuse or have an internal audit function; or (3) include all required information on its public Web site.  These deficiencies occurred because the Parish did not follow and understand the program and its requirements.  As a result of these systemic deficiencies, the Parish could not provide reasonable assurance to HUD that it would properly administer, adequately safeguard, and spend its remaining $8.67 million allocated for CDBG disaster recovery funds in accordance with requirements, and paid more than $400,000 in questioned costs. 

We recommend that HUD require the Parish to develop and implement written procedures and take actions that would correct and prevent the deficiencies outlined in the finding to better ensure that the Parish spends its remaining $8.67 million in accordance with program requirements.  In addition, we recommend that HUD require the Parish to (1) support or repay $451,894, (2) implement an internal audit function, (3) update its Web site, (4) fully implement or revise its policies to reflect current procedures, and (5) obtain additional technical assistance from HUD regarding program requirements.

Recommendation Status Date Issued Summary
2017-FW-1004-001-A Cerrado Abril 06, 2017 We recommend that the Director of HUD’s New Orleans Office of Community Planning and Development require the Parish to develop and implement a HUD approved written plan and checklists; and take actions that will correct and prevent the deficiencies outlined in the finding, improve program administration effectiveness, ensure compliance with HUD regulations and the policies and procedures it submitted and certified to HUD, and ensure it has the continuing capacity to carry out its activities, as required. Implementing this recommendation should ensure that the remaining $8,679,994 allocated in disaster funding is better used.
2017-FW-1004-001-B Cerrado Abril 06, 2017 We recommend that the Director of HUD’s New Orleans Office of Community Planning and Development require the Parish to support the cost reasonableness or repay its program from non-Federal funds $362,319 paid to its consultant contractor without an independent cost estimate.
2017-FW-1004-001-C Cerrado Abril 06, 2017 We recommend that the Director of HUD’s New Orleans Office of Community Planning and Development require the Parish to support the cost reasonableness or repay its program from non-Federal funds $30,702 paid to its construction contractor for cost increases without adequate cost analyses.
2017-FW-1004-001-D Cerrado Abril 06, 2017 We recommend that the Director of HUD’s New Orleans Office of Community Planning and Development require the Parish to support the cost reasonableness or repay its program from non-Federal funds $58,873 paid to its surveyor contractor for the sole-sourced contract without an adequate cost analysis.
2017-FW-1004-001-E Cerrado Abril 06, 2017 We recommend that the Director of HUD’s New Orleans Office of Community Planning and Development require the Parish to maintain program files with all required documentation for each activity.
2017-FW-1004-001-F Cerrado Abril 06, 2017 We recommend that the Director of HUD’s New Orleans Office of Community Planning and Development require the Parish to implement an internal audit function that satisfies program requirements.
2017-FW-1004-001-G Cerrado Abril 06, 2017 We recommend that the Director of HUD’s New Orleans Office of Community Planning and Development require the Parish to revise its monitoring policy to include the role of the internal auditor once implemented, and finalize and fully implement or revise its fraud, waste, and abuse detection policy to reflect current procedures.
2017-FW-1004-001-H Cerrado Abril 06, 2017 We recommend that the Director of HUD’s New Orleans Office of Community Planning and Development require the Parish to update its Web site to include current quarterly performance, budget, and progress reports.
2017-FW-1004-001-I Cerrado Abril 06, 2017 We recommend that the Director of HUD’s New Orleans Office of Community Planning and Development require the Parish to obtain technical assistance concerning the disaster recovery program requirements, including related Federal Register requirements. Specifically, the technical assistance should include guidance on how to satisfy the requirement regarding maintaining an internal audit function and Web site maintenance.