When Republican governors like Ohio’s John R. Kasich find themselves in the spotlight of presidential politics, the light shining on them often illuminates more than just them. In the case of the just released audit report by the Office of Inspector General, Department of Homeland Security on how well Ohio under the Kasich Administration has been complying with federal reporting requirements for DHS grants, what was revealed is the Buckeye State has many shortcoming to resolve, among them a disregard for federal law, and maybe $3.6 million that could be returned to Washington.

The Department of Homeland Security provides Federal funding through the Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP) to assist state and local agencies in enhancing capabilities to prevent, prepare for, protect against, and respond to acts of terrorism, major disasters, and other emergencies. DHS is required to audit individual states’ management of State Homeland Security Program and Urban Areas Security Initiative grants, which sent about $61.6 million to Ohio during fiscal years 2010 through 2012.

In a 39-page report dated Nov. 7, Ohio’s Department of Public Safety was instructed to improve its performance measures, the accounting for grant funds, the timeliness of releasing funds to subgrantees, and its monitoring of subgrantees, including their procurement and property management practices. “Although we identified many of these same challenges in two previous audits of
Ohio’s management of HSGP funding, FEMA [Federal Emergency Management] has not changed its oversight practices to target Ohio’s areas of repeated deficiencies. Ohio continues to disregard some Federal regulations and grant guidance. Consequently, the State may be limited in its ability to prevent, prepare for, protect against, and respond to natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other manmade disasters,” Assistant Inspector General for Audits, Anne L. Richards, wrote. Richards’ recommendations included better monitoring, reconciling accounts, documenting expenditures and budget changes, and tracking inventory.

The core of the report consists of nine recommendations offered to strengthen Ohio’s program management, performance and oversight. FEMA concurred with DHS that better monitoring, reconciling accounts, documenting expenditures and budget changes, and tracking inventory were needed. In a letter from Ohio Department of Public Safety Assistant Director Nancy Dragani, Ohio did not concur on three of the nine recommendations, offering technical reasons as its basis for disagreeing. On most others, though, ODPS concurred with both DHS and FEMA.

Included in a section called “Potential Monetary Benefits” that listed “Questioned Costs-Unsupported Costs,” at issue was $3,559,066.76  in non-compliant procurements. . In 2011, only 9 of 85 large ($100,000 or more) purchases and some smaller purchases were purchased under full and open competition. Costs of $61,499.69 for a planner were also questioned. The OIG noted that the timesheets supporting the cost of the planner also appeared to have been completed retroactively.

Not helping was OEMA only conducting onsite reviews of subgrantees that received FYs 2010 through 2012 funding of only about $4.3 million, or only about 7 percent of the total $61.6 million award. The audit found that a contributing factor was OEMA’s lack of staffing for subgrantee oversight, along with its policy to conduct only a sample of site visits every year, contributed to the subgrantees’ noncompliance with Federal property management requirements.

Read the full report.