TITLE

Federal Emergency Management Agency: Lack of Controls and Key Information for Property Leave Assets Vulnerable to Loss or Misappropriation: GAO-04-819R

AUTHOR(S)
Williams, McCoy
PUB. DATE
July 2004
SOURCE
GAO Reports;7/15/2004, p1
SOURCE TYPE
Government Documents
DOC. TYPE
Letter
ABSTRACT
Prior to the transfer of the functions of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to the newly established Department of Homeland Security (DHS) within the Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate (EP&R), FEMA was one of 24 Chief Financial Officers (CFO) Act agencies required to obtain annual financial statement audits. While DHS obtained a financial statement audit covering the period from March 1 through September 30, 2003, no financial statement audit was performed for FEMA activities for the 5 months prior to March 1, 2003. For fiscal year 2001, FEMA received a qualified audit opinion, which was due mostly to the auditor's inability to determine the accuracy of the amount reported for FEMA's equipment as well as other property issues. Although FEMA received an unqualified opinion from its auditor in fiscal year 2002, the auditor reported six material weaknesses (one relating to its real and personal property system processes) and one reportable condition as well as significant year-end adjustments made to property accounts. Furthermore, the audit report noted that FEMA did not have policies and procedures in place to ensure the accuracy of data recorded in its personal property system, the Logistics and Information Management System (LIMS). The previously reported weaknesses as well as the very nature of FEMA's mission, disaster response, which entails the acquisition of new personal property, sometimes very quickly, raise the risk that property may have been acquired but not recorded in LIMS and not accounted for by FEMA in the interim 5 months before the agency functions were transferred to DHS. As such, given the past weaknesses and risks surrounding FEMA's property management, the objectives of our review were to determine (1) whether controls were in place to ensure that property acquired during the 5 months prior to FEMA transferring its functions to DHS was properly accounted for in LIMS and (2) whether FEMA has corrected previously reported property management weaknesses. FEMA continues to lack the controls and key information necessary to ensure that personal property is properly accounted for. Accordingly, we were unable to perform statistically based testing to conclude whether or not FEMA properly accounted for property acquired during the 5 months prior to transferring its functions to DHS. We attempted to manually trace property items from the acquisition system and related documentation to the property system. Because these systems do not share common data identifiers such as serial numbers, purchase order numbers, and the like, we were unable to complete our tests of individual items. Absent integrated or adequately interfaced systems with the key information necessary to track and account for property, accountable and sensitive property is highly vulnerable to loss or misappropriation. In addition, while the original acquisition date was recorded in LIMS, users of the system were able to change that date and frequently did so to reflect when items were transferred to other locations. FEMA has not corrected its reported weaknesses related to property and equipment. Its property system is still not JFMIP compliant. Although new data fields have been added to address compliance, the systems holding the data needed to populate those fields are not linked to LIMS and thus, do not routinely share information. While processes have been developed to transfer information for certain data fields manually, it has only been done for capitalized property, which makes up less than 1 percent of property items and roughly 20 percent or $73 million of the total property value in LIMS. FEMA's fiscal years 2001 and 2002 auditors reported material weaknesses related to FEMA's accounting for real and personal property, and we reiterated these weaknesses in our fiscal year 2003 Performance and Accountability Series. In addition, due to the reduced materiality of FEMA's real and personal property for financial statement audit purposes, these weaknesses were not included in the DHS's departmentwide audit report. Instead, the material weaknesses were included in an observations and recommendations comment provided to EP&R management. Due to decreased visibility of this issue and the seriousness of these problems given the nature of FEMA's operations, immediate corrective actions are warranted, so that these problems do not continue to grow or assets are not unnecessarily vulnerable to loss or misappropriation.
ACCESSION #
18174327

 

Related Articles

  • An Independent Federal Border Agency.  // Brookings Review;Summer2002, Vol. 20 Issue 3, p19 

    Discusses a proposal by Governor Tom Ridge regarding the consolidation of government agencies that perform similar functions in the U.S. Information on government agencies responsible for securing and monitoring the people, cargo and conveyors that cross the U.S. land and air borders;...

  • Ridge approach: A new trend? Nienaber, Julia; Brown, Jim; Scott, Amy; Robinson, Kristin Cormier; Scott, Dave // State Government News;Jun/Jul2002, Vol. 45 Issue 6, p24 

    Outlines the approach of former Governor Tom Ridge to his Homeland Security initiative. Information on Ridge's innovative model for intergovernmental communication on homeland security; Parts of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act; Opinion on Ridge's model.

  • Into the Fire. Mesenbrink, John // Security: Solutions for Enterprise Security Leaders;Jan2002, Vol. 39 Issue 1, p8 

    Focuses on the homeland security in the U.S. Chairmanship of Tom Ridge director of Homeland Security; Implementation of comprehensive national strategy on security from terrorist attacks; Collaboration of the government agencies for the adequacy of national strategy; Issues on protection of...

  • Securing Our Nation. Ridge, Tom // Presidents & Prime Ministers;May/Jun2003, Vol. 12 Issue 3, p30 

    Presents an excerpt from a speech by U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, presented at the first meeting of the Homeland Security Advisory Committee on June 30, 2003 which discussed the roles and responsibilities of the agency in developing and strengthening the country's national...

  • Ridge Says Free World Will Prevail. Emrich, Anne Bond // Grand Rapids Business Journal;11/28/2005, Vol. 23 Issue 49, p10 

    This article reports on the call of former Homeland Security Adviser Tom Ridge for the U.S. to pioneer in managing the international insurgency within the Muslim community as of December 2005. Attendees of a Fifth Third Bank-sponsored luncheon at Devos Place in Michigan were told by Ridge about...

  • MR. RIDGE SURFS THE TURF.  // Christian Science Monitor;10/22/2001, Vol. 93 Issue 229, p10 

    Editorial. Discusses the role of Tom Ridge, the director of homeland security in the United States, and the idea that he will be challenged to command thousands of government workers in countering terrorism.

  • FAST program launched at Mexican border.  // Commercial Carrier Journal;Jan2004, Vol. 161 Issue 1, p40 

    Reports on the launching of the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) Program on the U.S.-Mexico border on December 4, 2003. Importance of Mexico as a trading partner, according to U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge; Overview of the program; Eligibility for FAST.

  • Blurring of the lines. Edmonson, R.G. // Journal of Commerce (1542-3867);8/11/2003, Vol. 4 Issue 32, p12 

    Discusses the problem in establishing the lines of responsibility of government agencies for different phases of supply-chain security. Decision of U.S. Homeland Secretary Tom Ridge to sign a delegation order giving the Transportation Security Administration overall responsibility for cargo...

  • Homeland Security.  // Vital Speeches of the Day;7/1/2002, Vol. 68 Issue 18, p546 

    Presents a speech delivered by United States Director of Homeland Security Tom Ridge to the National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundations in Washington, D.C. on June 10, 2002. Thoughts on homeland security and the need to build a strong foundation for the future; Security concerns...

Share

Read the Article

Courtesy of NEW JERSEY STATE LIBRARY

Sorry, but this item is not currently available from your library.

Try another library?
Sign out of this library

Other Topics