Feds to audit city's HOME funds at request of mayor


Changes in the administration of a federal housing program – coupled with a September monitoring visit that showed nine findings – will bring a thorough survey and site review from the Office of the Inspector General at the request of Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker.

Barker requested the review of all federal programs because the department has been consolidated into the city’s Department of Urban Development, a new director has been appointed and a new administration came on board. The review, which is expected to last six to eight weeks, was expected to begin Wednesday.

Barker sent the letter to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Jackson Field Office in October requesting an audit of the city’s HOME Investment Partnerships Programs funds. The money is provided under the National Affordable Housing Act.

“Being transparent with our citizens and with government entities who provide funds to us is a great priority of our administration,” Barker said. “This is the next step in the process, and it will fully allow us to know where our deficiencies are. It will also lay the foundation for how we can push ourselves to do better and be a more credible, modern, responsive and citizen-centered organization.”

In the Feb. 5 response to Barker’s request for the audit, HUD Region 4 Inspector General for Audit Nikita N. Irons said, “The survey will generally cover the period from Jan. 1, 2013, through Dec. 31, 2017. However, we may adjust the scope, if necessary. Based on the results, we will determine whether further audit work is warranted and will advise you of our determination.”

The documents that the Office of Inspector General requested include:

• Organizational chart and brief job descriptions of employees including the names, titles and start and end dates of all employees (current and past) involved in the administration of the HOME program from January 2013 through December 2017.

• HOME program audits and monitoring reports completed by HUD and any related correspondence.

• Internal reviews, audits or monitoring reports of the HOME program completed by the city.

• City's annual audited financial statements.

• Written policies and procedures for administering the HOME program.

• HOME Investment Partnership Agreements between the City and HUD.

• List of all Community Housing Development Organizations and sub-recipients that received HOME funds during the scope period.

• List of all commitments made during our scope period, including organization name,

• funded and expended amount, commitment date and IDIS activity/project number.

• For the city's HOME program expenditures, provide reports in Excel format for all expenditures made during our scope period to include the account number, payment date, payee name, payment amount, activity/project identifier, voucher number and description of the disbursement.

• Chart of accounts, general ledger, and disbursement reports for HOME program.

• Access to HOME activity files and financial records.