BECQ documenting labor costs charged to EPA

Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality administrator Frank Rabauliman says they’ve provided hundreds of thousands of documentation to support labor costs charged to their consolidated grant with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and are working to provide more by a deadline next year to substantiate the some $1 million in labor costs charged that EPA last week called “unsupported.”

EPA’s inspector general released a report based on audit findings for fiscal year 2014 and years questions about $1.08 in unallowable labor and fringe benefit costs charged to a consolidated grant by BECQ.

Seeking to clarify the issue, Rabauliman said the audit came out EPA’s Pacific Island Office in Region 9, who responsible for oversight over the grant and that in order for them to do a complete audit they visited island to seek information from the bureau.

“But the gist of the findings—so that it’s clear—has to do with time and attendance and basically narrow downs to 14 staff members who had worked on multiple tasks that had involved multiple funding sources,” Rabauliman said.

“And we need to account for their time toward the grants that they were working on, and this is 14 staff over the period of five years and that’s why it amounted to that’s much money,” he added.

“Between then and now, we’ve managed to provide close to 400,000 [copies] of documentation of the work that some of those staff did…But we’ve been given time up to September 2017 to do the remaining, to provide documentation of the remaining.”

He disagrees with calling the costs “disallowed costs” because he thinks them to be “questioned costs,” meaning the grantee can still and needs to provide documentation to show they are in compliance.

“That’s what we are in the process of doing. After the questioned costs and you fail to demonstrate then it becomes a disallowed cost,” he said.

The EPA report also slams the Region 9 officer for not providing adequate instruction to these local agencies and says their oversight was inconsistent over grants.

The inspector general called for improvements to in-kind and interagency agreement expenditure reporting and improving maintenance of Region 9 project officer files, which it says are not readily available to third parties.

The audit findings center on EPA “consolidate cooperative agreement, or CCAs, awarded to the DEQ and the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. for fiscal year 2014 and prior.

CUC acting executive director Gary Camacho still has not responded to a request for comment as of press time.

Dennis B. Chan | Reporter
Dennis Chan covers education, environment, utilities, and air and seaport issues in the CNMI. He graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Guam. Contact him at dennis_chan@saipantribune.com.

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