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Negative Audit Fault Pinned on Past CAO

The House has failed part of its annual independent financial audit for the second year in a row, an outcome that the chamber’s inspector general predicted in May when she announced the shortcomings unearthed by the previous audit.

The fiscal 2010 audit released Wednesday found that the finances were clean but that the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer lacked internal management controls “and thus did not provide reasonable assurance that losses, misstatements, or noncompliance material in relation to the financial statements would be prevented or detected and corrected on a timely basis.”

Specifically, the CAO lacked a managerial risk-assessment program and an information-technology security program, and its procedures to ensure the completeness and accuracy of year-end financial statements were generally regarded as weak.

House Administration Chairman Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) blamed the failures on former House Chief Administrative Officer Dan Beard.

“We’re headed in the right direction in cleaning up the mess of the previous CAO. That’s what this audit says,” Lungren said Wednesday. “This is something we complained about for some period of time.”

The audit’s conclusions are almost identical to those for fiscal 2009. In a May hearing before the House Administration Committee, House Inspector General Theresa Grafenstine told lawmakers that Beard’s administration was rife with “mismanagement and disengagement and, at times, obstruction.”

Beard resigned July 1, 2010, one day after an independent auditor informed committee members that the chamber would fail the internal controls part of its financial audit for the first time in more than a decade.

Dan Strodel took over as CAO on an interim basis and immediately began making changes to the agency’s operations. But the audit notes that because Strodel took over toward the end of fiscal 2010, his office was not able to implement the necessary controls in time for that year’s audit.

“House management focused on improving internal controls during [fiscal 2010],” the audit reads. “This effort included hiring an individual with responsibility over a management control program and contracting with a professional services firm to implement a management control program. The House, however, did not implement the program in [fiscal 2010], but has targeted it to be in place during” fiscal 2011.

The agency is also testing internal controls over information technology, Strodel wrote in a note released with the audit.

“We accept the findings of the independent audit,” Strodel said in a separate statement. He referred to the corrective measures identified in the report and said he expects “to achieve significant progress” in fiscal 2011.

Lungren said he has faith in Strodel, who was appointed to a full term by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in January, and that the House will “absolutely not” fall short on any future audits.

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