Auditing and Financial Management:
Review of Certain Activities of the Government of the Virgin Islands of the United States, Fiscal Year 1961
B-114808, Aug 30, 1962
The General Accounting Office has reviewed certain activities of the Government of the Virgin Islands of the United States for the fiscal year ended June 30, 1961, pursuant to the Budget and Accounting Act, 1921 (31 U.S.C. 53), and the Accounting and Auditing Act of 1950 (31 U.S.C. 67). In view of section 19 of the Revised Organic Act of the Virgin Islands (48 U.S.C. 1632), our review centered on the office and activities of the Government Comptroller of the Virgin Islands, since these are subject to review annually by the Comptroller General of the United States. In addition, we made reviews of selected activities of the Government of the Virgin Islands.
During the fiscal year 1961 the Government Comptroller issued 18 audit reports which disclosed continued serious weaknesses in the insular government's financial and accounting controls. Responses by operating officials evidenced general agreement with the need to strengthen such controls. Late in fiscal year 1960 the Office of the Government Comptroller had suspended its practice of requesting the views of the departments audited, through discussion meetings and written comments, for consideration in preparing the final audit reports. During our current review the Government Comptroller informed us that he would reinstate the practice of discussing the audit reports with insular government officials, except that some reports would be discussed only if the Governor was present. In the audit reports issued during the fiscal year 1961, the Government Comptroller stated 73 exceptions against payments by the insular government, thereby indicating that in his opinion the payments questioned--totaling $1,148,247--were illegal, improper, or incorrect. The exceptions did not identify the certifying or disbursing officers responsible for the payments questioned, nor were records disclosing the status of the exceptions maintained by the Government Comptroller's office. Also, we found that no procedures had been established for clearing exceptions when the Governor and the Government Comptroller disagree on the action to be taken. We believe that efforts should be made by the responsible officials to arrive at a mutually satisfactory procedure for expeditiously resolving uncleared exceptions. A proposed Virgin Islands Home Rule Act, introduced during the second session of the Eighty-seventh Congress, provides, among other matters, for the Governor of the Virgin Islands to appoint an auditor for the insular government. The auditor would take the place of the Government Comptroller, effective July 1, 1963. At present the Government Comptroller's office is subject to review annually by the Comptroller General of the United States. On May 29, 1962, at the request of the cognizant committees of the Congress, we commented on the proposed Virgin Islands Home Rule Act. With respect to the proposed change in audit authority, we expressed the view that, because of the substantial Federal financial contributions provided for the activities of the Government of the Virgin Islands, it may be desirable for the General Accounting Office to be authorized to periodically review the auditor's work if the proposed office is established.