BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — About $1.1 million in emergency response and disaster mitigation requests submitted to a state agency still needs supporting documentation. Program leaders note that projects can’t be closed and – in many instances – no funds are paid until the paperwork meets all necessary criteria.

The Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office reviewed documentation of Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) reimbursements paid by the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2022.

HMGP helps local governments with projects that decrease property damage risks and help decrease the effects of natural disasters going forward. For example, projects like drainage improvements or elevating some flood-prone buildings could be part of this program. GOHSEP reimburses subgrantees once proper documentation has been provided.

Sean Wyatt, assistant deputy director of the GOHSEP Hazard Mitigation Assistance Division, said in the management’s response that the goal is 100% accuracy and the department is working, using the LLA documentation, to remove errors from the process.

He said the review process requires that all exceptions noted in the LLA report are handled before money is paid or the project is closed.

The LLA determined that 275 requests totaling $31,436,211 had the proper documentation.

Fifty requests had exceptions totaling $4,588,866. GOHSEP was able to resolve $3,485,520 of the flagged amounts, leaving $1,103,346 unresolved.

Findings were under three main categories:

  • Out of scope: 4 exceptions totaling $1,120,814
  • Lack of support: 30 exceptions totaling $2,103,445
  • Procurement not documented: 16 exceptions totaling $1,364,607

Subgrantees gave amended scopes of work to support $850,190 of the out-of-scope exceptions.

The LLA noted that GOHSEP either reduced requested amounts or was provided enough documentation to resolve $1,823,271 in lack-of-support exceptions.

GOHSEP also reduced requested amounts or was given documents to support $812,059 in procurement exceptions.

No exceptions were flagged because of ineligible costs or errors in the audited transactions.

Wyatt said staff will keep handling all questioned costs. He pointed to added technical assistance being offered through GOHSEP State Applicant Liaisons and legal staff.

“Training and education are top priorities for GOHSEP, and these reports
are instrumental in assisting us to ensure that both internal and external stakeholders are
receiving proper guidance,” Wyatt said.

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