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Sunday, May 29, 2022


If anyone can root out what happened to the $30 million that the Federal Emergency Management Agency gave the V.I. government to repair roofs damaged by recent hurricanes, it’s Steven van Beverhoudt.
But even van Beverhoudt won’t be able to unearth the surfacing reports of improper bonuses, stipends and other payments unless he gets more resources.
Van Beverhoudt, as most people know, heads the V.I. Bureau of Audit and Control, also known as the territorial Inspector General’s Office.
Under Gov. Roy L. Schneider’s administration, that office was stripped of money and resources. This was done under the guise of fiscal belt-tightening, but many people believe it reflected Schneider’s attempt to silence a strong, persistent and credible critic.
It appears that Gov. Charles W. Turnbull won’t take the same kill-the-messenger tack as his predecessor.
Turnbull has already met with van Beverhoudt and wants him to conduct several audits, including one on the roofing program and another on the “midnight raid” by Gov. Schneider and 36 people in his administration that circumvented normal procedures to issue lump-sum payments for unpaid leave.
But van Beverhoudt’s office is short-staffed. He has six vacancies, including a deputy inspector general. He needs one of two things, or maybe both: outside help from an entity like the U.S. Interior Department or a green light from Turnbull to fill at least a few of those vacancies.
We would urge the governor and van Beverhoudt to explore with Interior officials the possibility of technical assistance grants to hire auditors or an inter-governmental loan of federal auditors to help the territorial audit bureau temporarily. Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt indicated a willingness to help us regain our footing. This is a small but meaningful place to start.
One other thing: Over the years there has been talk of moving the Audit Bureau from the executive to the legislative branch. Perhaps that should still be explored. But it begs the real issue: resources. Regardless of where the inspector general hangs its administrative hat, it needs sufficient trained staff to carry out its public mandate to see how public money has been spent and to recommend ways to improve.

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