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Tuesday, October 4, 2022


Millions of V.I. government dollars are still missing while succeeding administrations have ignored dozens of auditors' recommendations on how to better manage the territory's money, says a federal report released earlier this year.
The U.S. Interior Department's Office of Inspector General's semiannual report, issued in April, listed 32 audits of various Virgin Islands departments and agencies containing numerous unimplemented solutions to recurring financial problems.
In the audits, which date back to 1991, the various inspectors general also questioned the use of, could not locate or accused the government of squandering, nearly $6.9 million in funds and grants.
Among the pending audits are four concerning inmate care and property management at the V.I. Bureau of Corrections, the first of which was done in 1992. A follow-up audit in May 1998 cites six outstanding recommendations.
Two other reports that contain lingering questions are an audit of the V.I. government for fiscal years 1990 and 1991, with 16 unresolved recommendations, and one for Fiscal Year 1994, which contains five neglected suggestions and $632,247 in questioned funds.
The government has also overlooked 16 recommendations in a 1998 audit of sewage system user fees; that audit also cites $897,212 in unresolved funds.
Three audits pending in the V.I. Education Department include equipment management, the school lunch program and hurricane repairs contracting. Audits investigating disaster assistance funds in the V.I. Police Department, the Office of Management and Budget and the V.I. Water and Power Authority also contain unimplemented recommendations.
Also lingering unresolved is the well-known 1998 audit that accused Gov. Roy Schneider's administration of making more than $1.58 million of illegal fund transfers.
One of the more glaring audits, from 1997, concerns the V.I. government's Workmen's Compensation Program. The Division of Workmen's Compensation, Inspector General Wilma Lewis wrote in the audit, "needed to make improvements in the areas of insurance premium collection, compensation disbursement, and overall safeguarding of government insurance resources."
The audit criticized the government for not effectively enforcing the collection of workmen's compensation premiums, taking several months to process claims and not ensuring expenditures and revenues were properly authorized and recorded.
The audit also found that private and government employers owed $1.3 million in worker's compensation premiums for 1993 and 1994, and that $875,000 of the fund was used for activities unrelated to worker's compensation.
The audit made 15 recommendations to rectify the problems. However, according to April's semiannual report, none were implemented and $2.5 million was still in question.
The semiannual report also shows the Virgin Islands government has surpassed its fellow territories in the number of audits it has entirely or partially ignored. According to the report, 11 audits of the government of Guam contain unresolved recommendations while only two audits of the government of American Samoa remain neglected.
Neither Gov. Charles Turnbull nor Government House spokesman James O'Bryan could be reached for comment because they are off-island. A spokesman for Interior's Office of Insular Affairs, which oversees the territories, would not comment on the report.

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