OPA: DPS resolved 1 of 2 audit findings

DPS’ evidence facility remain inadequate

The Office of the Public Auditor, in a report submitted to the presiding officers of the Legislature and other department heads, noted that the evidence facility of the Department of Public Safety remain inadequate.

In a July 2, 2018 letter addressed to Senate President Arnold I. Palacios (R-Saipan), House Speaker Rafael S. Demapan (R-Saipan), House minority leader Rep. Edmund S. Villagomez (Ind-Saipan), Department of Finance Secretary Larissa C. Larson, and Special Assistant to the Office of Management and Budget Virginia C. Villagomez, OPA noted that the physical security of the DPS evidence facility remain inadequate.

The OPA in a previous audit finding recommends to DPS that the management needed to ensure that ongoing improvements continue and that funding sources are sufficient and dedicated to achieve the goal.

On a May 9, 2018 communication to OPA, DPS stated that evidence remains to be stored at the temporary evidence facility.

“DPS has not begun renovations to the original evidence facility until funding can be obtained from [Federal Emergency Management Agency] under the Public Assistance Grant,” DPS reportedly told OPA.

DPS reported further stated that FEMA has already begun the renovation process for other facilities and will begin renovations at the original evidence facility once finished.

In response to the communication, OPA said that while DPS has made substantial improvements to the original facility prior to the damages cause by the ravage of Typhoon Soudelor in 2015, they are cognizant that renovations to the original evidence facility is dependent on the availability of funds, a matter that is out of DPS’ influence.

Despite the roadblock, OPA said the recommendation would remain unresolved until renovations have been made and all evidence is moved back to the original evidence facility.

DPS did manage to resolve one of two previous OPA audit findings. OPA in a previous audit noted that firearms seized and weapons submitted for safekeeping are “inadequately documented” and in some cases, “records are non-existent.”

DPS was recommended to have the evidence custodian continuously update the inventory as conducted by OPA. OPA further recommended that seized firearms that are not considered evidence should be stored in the DPS armory.

OPA determined that the recommendation was resolved after conducting a site visit to the evidence facility.

“…[OPA] confirmed that non-evidence firearms are separately maintained from other items within the temporary evidence facility,” OPA noted in the report.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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