The County received a $14 million grant for damages from Hurricane Isaac, an August 2012 disaster. We conducted this audit early in the grant process to identify areas where the County may need additional technical assistance or monitoring to ensure compliance with Federal requirements. At the time of our audit, the Jackson County, Mississippi, Board of Supervisors (County) had not established accounting procedures to account for disaster costs on a project-by-project basis, as Federal regulations and FEMA guidelines require. As a result, we had to rely on direct assistance from County officials to identify project costs and related supporting documentation. Additionally, although most of the County’s contracts complied with Federal procurement standards, the County improperly procured an architectural and engineering (A/E) contract totaling $1.3 million for dredging navigation channels. Inadequate competition increased the likelihood of fraud, waste, and abuse of Federal funds and resulted in at least $353,154 of unreasonable costs. Further, in soliciting bids for the A/E contract, the County did not provide opportunities for disadvantaged firms, such as small and minority firms, to bid on federally funded work as Congress intended. Lastly, the contract included a clause making payment contingent upon FEMA funding, which Federal cost principles do not allow.
The Jackson County, Mississippi, Board of Supervisors Would Benefit from Technical Assistance in Managing Its $14 Million FEMA Grant Award