Federal auditors scrutinize USMs rebuilding costs - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Federal auditors scrutinize USMs rebuilding costs

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LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) -

A report from the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General says FEMA should recover millions of dollars of rebuilding costs claimed by the University of Southern Mississippi.

That November, 2012 report details the $41.1 million awarded to the university by FEMA to help college administrators rebuild the Long Beach campus after Hurricane Katrina.  The grants paid to USM were for 118 large projects and 202 small projects.  Buildings, equipment, utilities and recreational facilities were all covered by the grant money.

"FEMA should recover $5.3 million of costs claimed by the University," the federal auditor found.  A chunk of that money, the auditor said, shouldn't have been paid to Southern Mississippi because the university got another agency to cover those costs.  The report also found "the University did not comply with Federal procurement requirements when awarding contracts."

In media reports detailing the audit, USM Gulf Coast Vice President and CEO Dr. Frances Lucas said the university agreed that it should relinquish claim to $1.44 million it never spent. But she said $3.85 million was mostly spent properly.

According to Dr. Lucas, some spending immediately following the storm didn't follow federal guidelines on bids. But Lucas said it was impossible to take proper bids right after the storm.

Dr. Lucas is sitting down this afternoon with WLOX News anchor Terrance Friday to explain what happened during the days after Hurricane Katrina.  You'll hear the Southern Miss response to this audit on WLOX News at 10:00.

Copyright 2012 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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