Inspector General Steven van Beverhoudt told the Senate Finance Committee Friday that the proposed budget for his department will not let him hire enough personnel to meet all the demands of it.
“Initially when the budget call came down, we requested 24 [total positions], but after they revised the budget and eliminated all the vacancies, we lost six positions. We had a retirement in December of last year, our chief of audits retired so that jumped us to six vacancies,” van Beverhoudt said.
The recommended appropriation of $2.4 million from the General Fund for the Office of the Inspector General in FY 2021 budget is $588,147 less than the current fiscal year. Now the office will have to continue completing audits and investigations with their limited staff.
During Friday’s hearing, van Beverhoudt said the office has 18 filled positions but could use additional auditors and investigators to handle a combined total of 17 different investigations and audits currently being performed.
The office has eight auditors, two on St. Croix and six on St. Thomas, and two investigators.
“We only have two auditors on St. Croix, and in the proposal, we were trying to add four more auditors on St. Croix. Then we have the chief of audits to refill and a general counsel, those are the six positions,” that need to be filled van Beverhoudt said.
These positions would ease the workload for current auditors and investigators that are charged with reviewing several entities. Some of the entities being audited or investigated include the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority, Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital, use of the Government Employees’ Retirement System loan proceeds in relation to the West Bay Supermarket Project, Revolving Fund Accounts administered by the Department of Agriculture and the Water and Power Authority’s Vitol fuel contract and transactions.
As it sits now van Beverhoudt said the office can’t meet all their mandates or requests.
“The VIPD asked us to look at some things, but we basically had to tell them that you just have to stand in line, because basically we have auditors working on two projects at the same time, and the investigators have 11 active, open cases that they are kind of juggling and jumping around. So, as they wait for information on one, they work on another one,” van Beverhoudt said.
Sen. Dwayne DeGraff said it sounded as though more employees would be necessary.
“The work that your small office does is tremendous,” DeGraff said. “When you lose a senior auditor and you only have two on St. Croix, and we have five over here, it’s only fair that to continue the great work you are doing that you need to fill at least two more positions even though they were all taken away from you.”
In response, van Beverhoudt said, “We will take what we can get, but we will also make do with whatever we get.”
All committee members – Sens. DeGraff, Janelle Sarauw, Kurt Vialet, Marvin Blyden, Oakland Benta, Allison DeGazon and Donna Frett-Gregory – were present for the Finance hearing.