Recently Released Report
Management of the Coastal Impact Assistance Program, State of Mississippi
We audited Coastal Impact Assistance Program (CIAP) grants awarded to the State of Mississippi to determine whether grant recipients complied with CIAP’s authorizing legislation, Federal regulations, U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) policies, and grant terms and conditions, and to identify grant management challenges that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) should address as it assumed responsibility for managing CIAP.
CIAP provides grant funds derived from Federal offshore lease revenues to oil-producing States for conservation, protection, or restoration of coastal areas, wildlife, and natural resources. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 authorized the Secretary of the Interior to disburse $250 million in each of fiscal years 2007 through 2010 to eligible grant recipients in Alabama, Alaska, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. The Secretary originally delegated oversight of these funds to the Minerals Management Service, which reorganized into the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement. On October 1, 2011, FWS assumed responsibility for managing the ongoing grants and awarding the balance of funds.
We found that the State of Mississippi’s Department of Marine Resources and Hancock, Harrison, and Jackson Counties were awarded 100 CIAP grants from DOI totaling $99.8 million from fiscal year 2009 through fiscal year 2012. During our audit, we found grants were approved that did not meet criteria in CIAP legislation, widespread conflicts of interest in the administration of CIAP and land purchases, improper land appraisals, circumvention of procurement regulations, improper charges to grants, improper use of equipment, and various accounting, payroll, and financial issues. Of the almost $39 million in our sample representing 57 grants, we question approximately $30 million in CIAP-ineligible and unsupported costs and funds to be put to better use.
We provided 37 recommendations to help FWS eliminate Program deficiencies. FWS concurred or partially concurred with 32 of our 37 recommendations and is working to implement or close these recommendations. We consider 7 recommendations unresolved, 17 resolved but not implemented, and 13 closed.
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