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Monday, July 15, 2024
HomeNewsArchivesIG QUESTIONS $500,000 IN SCHNEIDER EXPENSES

IG QUESTIONS $500,000 IN SCHNEIDER EXPENSES

The Virgin Islands inspector general has issued a scathing audit report on expenditures in the Office of the Governor during the four years that Roy L. Schneider was chief executive.
The audit found that more than $500,000 was expended for what Inspector General Steven VanBeverhoudt termed "questionable and sometimes undocumented purposes." Of that amount, $394,939 was either misused or could have been put to better use, the report stated.
Specifically, the audit, the first of the Governor's Office since former Gov. Alexander Farrelly left office, found that:
· $259,351 was paid for chartered inter-island air travel; $202,171 was excessive and a significant number of the travelers were not identified.
· Schneider administration officials spent an average of $400 per person to travel one way between St. Thomas and St. Croix.
· Approximately $114,000 in expenses was reimbursed to then-First Lady Barbara Schneider, some of which appear to have been for personal living expenses.
· The government paid $8,820 for inter-island travel for then-Finance Commissioner Juan Centeno and his family while he was on leave to campaign for lieutenant governor.
· $900 was paid for what apparently was a personal trip to Puerto Rico for the Schneider's executive assistant, Maureen Bryan, and her family.
· $61,607 was paid for temporary living expenses for two individuals housed at a local hotel after Hurricane Marilyn in 1995.
· $7,441 was paid for a hotel room for an unidentified occupant or occupants.
· More than $67,000 in temporary hotel living expenses incurred in 1995 and 1996 were paid in 1999 without legislative approval.
· More than $125,000 was disbursed for inauguration expenses in each of the past two administrations without supporting documentation.
The inspector general recommended that Gov. Charles W. Turnbull's chief of staff, Juel Molloy, adopt several measures to avoid any such improper expenditures in the current administration.
VanBeverhoudt said these should include requiring that accounting personnel follow procedures to ensure that any vouchers submitted are authorized and certified as appropriate government expenditures before payment is made.
He also recommended that an internal review process be established in the Governor's Office to reject non-essential travel claims. The IG also suggested an executive review of all budget and accounting reports.
The audit report recommends that internal control procedures be encouraged and supported to avoid fraud, waste and abuse.
The IG also called for procedures requiring that all prior-year obligations in excess of $5,000 be submitted to the Legislature for approval prior to payment.
Turnbull has agreed with the recommendations and findings in the report. In a June 17 letter, he wrote the inspector general, "My office has provided a corrective plan for each finding with which it concurs."
The governor wrote, "Overall, the audit is thorough, and your recommendations will assist this office in developing appropriate guidelines that will ensure greater accountability and more efficient internal operations."
The overall objective of the audit was to determine whether the Office of the Governor had an effective internal control system in place to ensure that public funds were accounted for, safeguarded and used in an efficient and economical manner. The auditors found that it did not.

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