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The City of Columbus, GA, Demonstrated the Capacity to Obligate Its NSP-1 Funds

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The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Office of Inspector General conducted a review of the City of Columbus, GA’s (City) Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP1) to determine whether the City had demonstrated the capacity to properly obligate all NSP1 grant funds and at least 25 percent of the grant toward occupants with incomes below 50 percent of the median income in the locality (LH25) set-aside by the September 5, 2010, statutory deadline. We reviewed 100 percent of the City’s obligations toward its $3.1 million NSP1 grant and performed detailed testing of the procurements for its obligations toward the LH25.

The City demonstrated the capacity to properly obligate its entire $3.1 million NSP1 grant by the September 5, 2010, statutory deadline. This capacity was evidenced by the City’s substantial progress in committing its grant funds during our review.

However, we identified two concerns regarding internal controls and entering obligations before contracts were fully executed.

The City obligated $219,767 in acquisition, rehabilitation, and downpayment assistance costs for two properties that were improperly classified as LH25 set-asides. The properties were sold to individuals whose income exceeded the LH25 income requirements. We discussed this matter with the City during the review, and it reclassified the invalid LH25 obligations.

The City could not locate the procurement records for the lead-based paint contract it awarded. It obligated and paid $29,612 for lead-based paint abatement services provided by a contractor that was under contract with the City. We discussed this matter with the City, and it agreed to locate and provide these documents to HUD’s Office of Community Planning and Development for review.

The City did not maintain up-to-date NSP-1 quarterly performance reports on its Web site. It had not posted its March 31, 2010, and June 30, 2010, quarterly performance reports on its Web site. We discussed this matter with the City and, it posted the missing quarterly reports on its Web site.

Overall, the City’s actions taken or planned regarding the issues indicated its willingness to make necessary improvements.