MILE SQUARE VIEW BREAKING SPECIAL FEATURE
Certified audit findings reveal litany of illicit mismanagement under Carmelo Garcia
If HHA Executive Director Carmelo Garcia thought the investigation into his procurement woes was over with the odd intervention of the HUD office in Newark, a new publicly released audit report's findings will displace any such notion.
Showing a lengthy list of serious problems, many clearly in violation under state and federal law, the HHA audit findings laid bare the mismanagement and vendor abuses under the controversial contractor heading the agency in Carmelo Garcia.
Among the more than a dozen and a half serious problems delineated in the HHA Audit Report:
- Five vendors were paid over $26,000 where a bid process is mandatory under law
- None of the five vendors fulfilled a required sealed bid requirement
- Two of the five above vendors were paid over $100,000
- "Questioned costs" totaled over $573,000
- Payments to numerous vendors was out of compliance with prices authorized by the HHA Board of Commissioners
- The HHA accounting department was "unable to print a vendors history report"
- One vendor overpaid without contract authorization exceeded $753,000
- The partial period of emergency is no excuse for the excessive unauthorized payments
- All contracts should be properly reviewed when reaching 70% of approved contract expenditure
- Fiscal controls relating to HHA procurement are not "as required" by law
- No emergency procurement reports were filed with the state as required under law
- The HHA is "not in compliance" with state and federal procurement laws and regulations.
- Detailed required bills submitted for payment to the HHA examined lacked required vendor certifications in all examples examined.
- Internal control over aspects of procurement are "ineffective"
- More than $100,000 in expenditures with the illicit use of a credit or store card
- Section 8 files contained major problems and are "materially incomplete"
- Costs deemed problematic connected to Section 8 can't be fully determined due to the lack of required documentation
- The HHA is "not in compliance" with the Housing Choice Voucher Program and the Low Rent Public Housing Program regulations
In addition, the audit report findings state payments throughout the year to a host of suspect vendors totaled almost $800,000 and the "state of emergency" due to Hurricane Sandy shows most of the expenditures "occurred outside the scope of the emergency."
At a recent meeting HHA commissioner and Councilman Dave Mello marveled at a seven-thousand dollar bill with no itemized details at Home Depot and demanded to see how the store credit card was being used. As it turns out, use of any credit or store card is not permitted. It's unclear how long HHA ED Carmelo Garcia did so.
The report said excuses were made pointing to Hurricane Sandy but this was not deemed acceptable.
No comment was made concerning the revelations of vendors giving thousands of dollars to Carmelo Garcia's political committee.
Talking Ed Note: That's that.
Related: MSV's broke the story on Carmelo Garcia pocketing money from HHA vendors in May at the link: