McNesby overcharged FEMA for Ivan (DHS letter)

While doing research on another project, I came across this April 30, 2009 letter from the regional director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency on its audit of disaster costs associated with Hurricane Ivan activities for Escambia County Sheriffs Office under Ronnie McNesby. The auditor found that McNesby’s finance department, headed by Steve Stevens (who was recently appointed to the Public Service Commission), did not accumulate project costs on a project-by-project basis as required by federal regulations. The auditors disallowed $2,136,710 of questioned costs.

Audit Findings:
1. The Sheriff’s Office claim included $1,663,429 of unsupported, excessive, and ineligible equipment charges – which were was not supported by source documentation such as vehicle usage logs or activity reports. “Although the Sheriffs Office did not maintain adequate documentation, it is reasonable to conclude that eligible emergency protective measures were performed during regular-time working hours in the initial 72-hour period after the storm made landfall. Therefore, equipment costs of $90,376 claimed for September 16~18, 2004, will be considered eligible for reimbursement based on reasonable consideration.” The rest was disallowed.

2. ECSO tried to charge FEMA for hourly usage of patrol cars used instead of the $0.41 mileage rate as required by FEMA. It also charged FEMA for commuter mileage of the deputies from their homes to the office.

3. ECSO did not follow its established compensation policy when computing overtime pay, resulting in excess charges of $473,281.

Read OIG_DA-09-15_April09.

It has been 15 months since Sheriff Ron McNesby has left office. Since then, his administration has been investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice; a finance employee’s theft of $1.2 million from his Evidence Trust Fund has been discovered; and a FEMA audit has shown Hurricance Ivan records weren’t properly maintained and denied $2.1 million in charges.