The Office of the Public Auditor has tracked a total of 36 audit and inspection recommendations it issued against CNMI agencies as of Dec. 31, 2020, and found that nine have been resolved while 27 remain unresolved.
Of the 27 unresolved audit and inspection recommendations, 20 are from the Department of Finance. Both the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Public Lands have resolved all their audit and inspection recommendations, according to the OPA report.
Finance Secretary David DLG Atalig said yesterday that of the 20 unresolved from Finance, they agree with OPA and many are being worked on with a Corrective Action Plan.
Atalig said many will be resolved with the Financial Management Information System, which will replace their outdated JD Edwards.
He said many findings are due to the lack of or insufficient system to keep up with monitoring and management of the findings.
“We thank OPA for keeping us in line and on our toes to do the right thing and move forward in ensuring we are prudent with our systems, processes and funds,” Atalig said.
In her report on CNMI agencies’ implementation of audit recommendations, Public Auditor Kina B. Peter said OPA sent follow-up emails and called government agencies whose audit and inspection recommendations remain unresolved as of Dec. 31, 2020.
“Based upon our review, nine audit and inspection recommendations were resolved,” said Peter in her report addressed to the Interagency Audit Coordinating Advisory Group. That group is composed of Senate President Jude U. Hofschneider (R-Tinian), House Speaker Edmund S. Villagomez (Ind-Saipan), House minority leader Rep. Ivan A. Blanco (R-Saipan), Finance Secretary David Atalig, and special assistant for the Office of Management and Budget Virginia C. Villagomez.
OPA maintains an audit recommendations tracking system to monitor the implementation and resolution of audit and inspection recommendations. OPA issues on a semi-annual basis its report on CNMI agencies’ implementation and resolution of audit and inspection recommendations, referred to as the Audit Recommendations Tracking System report. The ARTS report presents the audited agencies’ implementation of OPA recommendations.
Under the law, the Coordinating Advisory Group’s task is to review all audit reports of the Public Auditor, and the Public Auditor will discuss the manner in which audit recommendations can be implemented with the assistance of the group’s members. The group shall also recommend to the governor and to the Legislature any changes in laws or regulations that it finds necessary or desirable as a result of its work with the Public Auditor.
Peter said OPA has not received any request for consultation from the group since 2000.
However, she said, OPA has been issuing follow-up letters, email messages, and/or contacting agencies with outstanding recommendations to request for information on corrective actions taken to implement OPA’s audit and inspection recommendations.
Peter said when requested, OPA staff meets with agency officials to discuss and clarify actions required to address OPA’s audit and inspection recommendations.
A resolved recommendation is one in which OPA is satisfied that the client has taken corrective action to meet the intent of the recommendation or OPA has withdrawn from it. An unresolved recommendation is one in which the client cannot take immediate action or OPA has not been informed by the agency or department of any action taken to address the recommendation.
The 11 resolved recommendations are one each on audit of the Department of Finance’s government travel policy, inspection of the Department of Public Safety’s Confidential Informant Fund, audit of DPS’ Evidence Facility, audit of the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.’s Patient Revenue Cycle, three on inspection of the Department of Public Lands’ lease, and two on audit of DPL’s land leases and temporary permits.
The 27 unresolved are nine on the audit of Finance’s Hotel Occupancy Tax, two on the audit of Finance’s government travel policy, two on the audit of Finance’s government vehicles, five on the audit of Finance’s fuel contract, three on the Commonwealth Election Commission’s inspection of ballot accountability, one on the audit of CHCC’s Patient Revenue Cycle, three on the audit of the Department of Lands and Natural Resources’ Outer Cove Marina, and two on the audit of Finance’s excise taxes.