9-Year-Old Boy Dies After Being Shot in Head in Croixville Housing Community; Police Detain 15-Year-Old

Concerned Residents Clean Christiansted Town Using Their Own Tools, Money, and Some Help from the VI Fire Service

Territory May See Veterans Cemetery Through DeGazon-Sponsored Bill

Credit and Debit Cards of WAPA Customers Were Compromised Since August 30th, WAPA Says, Authority to Finally Start Issuing Notification Via Mail and Email

Sports Tourism in VI Gains Momentum as DC United Team is set to Play Exhibition Soccer Game on St. Croix

Carnival Breeze Brings 3,700 Tourists to St. Croix During Maiden Call; Senators, Tourism Officials Want to See More

Limetree Bay Willing To Provide $10 Million To Help Add Life to a Dying G.E.R.S.

American Airlines to Serve St. Croix With New Flights Next Summer

The Sudden Death of Influential Roots Reggae Visionary, Vaughn Benjamin of Midnite Band and Akae Beka, Has Rocked the Virgin Islands and Reggae Community Around the World

Arthur A. Richards K-8 School Hosts Anti-Bullying Campaign

Come Out. Hang Out. Have Fun at The Meat Up, One of St. Thomas’ Latest Hot-Spot for Good Food with Friends and Family.

UVI Board of Trustees Approves $47.1 Million Fiscal Year 2020 Budget; Sets $3 Million Fundraising Goal

Man Dies During Early Morning Car Accident on St. Croix; Driver of Car Arrested (Updated)

'You Did Everything You Could to Prevent this from Happening': An Emotional Goodbye to Young Aaron Benjamin

Back in Business: Cost U Less on St. Thomas Opened its Doors Friday to Thousands of Customers 2 Years after Irma and Maria

Bill Aimed at Regulating Credit Use by Gov't Departments and Agencies Among Others Held in Committee

Juan Luis Hospital Announces Completion and Availability of Mobile Dialysis Facilities

Tractor Trailer With Tank Carrying Thousands Of Gallons of Liquified Gas Flips Near Cool Out Bar; Driver Injured But Alive

Credit and Debit Card Hack Through WAPA Appears to be Widespread in Virgin Islands; WAPA Says Support Services Will be Made Available to Affected Customers

Facing Life in Prison Without Parole, Mother and Boyfriend Plead Not Guilty in Murder of 4-Year-Old Boy

Territory Continues To Lose Unspent Federal Grants; Human Service’s Head Start Program Recently Lost $1.5 Million

Featured / News / Top Stories / Virgin Islands / July 20, 2018

During an Office of Management of Budget budget hearing on Thursday, it was revealed by the Senate’s Post Audit Division that of $25 million in federal funding under O.M.B., more than $16 million had yet to be spent. The post audit report also revealed that there were 39 federal grants awarded to the territory between 2017 with an expiration date of 2022, and only four of those grants had been completely exhausted.

Case in point: It was revealed that the Department of Human Services lost $1.5 million in Headstart funding because the funds were not used on time. The grant expired on June 28, and O.M.B. Director Julio Rhymer concurred that a request for extension from the federal government by D.H.S. was most likely not sought. Senator Nereida Rivera-O’Reilly said $1.5 million in Headstart dollars “going back to the federal government is not anything this community can accept.” Mr. Rhymer responded by stating, “That’s correct.”

D.H.S. Commissioner Felicia Blyden did not return a request for comment.

Senator Kurt Vialet, who chairs the Committee on Finance in which budget hearings are held, asked Anita Roberts, deputy director of O.M.B.’s federal grants management unit, what could be done to solve the problem. “We are working on a strategy to see when these funds come into the territory. Currently we have no idea when the funds come into the territory,” she said.

Mr. Vialet asked whether O.M.B. knew of the $1.5 million Headstart grant cycle and the amount, to which Ms. Roberts affirmatively responded.

“The bigger question I’m asking is if we know that we get X amount of money to be expended over a two-year period, who’s monitoring to make sure that they’re doing what they’re supposed to do?” Mr. Vialet asked. Mr. Rhymer said two forms of management exist: federal grant managers in some departments and agencies, and O.M.B.

“We write, we do site visits — we do everything with the process. At times, without the teeth to enforce accountability, it creates a problem,” Mr. Rhymer said. Mr. Vialet asked whether employees who cannot perform their work on assuring that the federal dollars are spent should be swapped or sent home.

“Because we’re seeing within [the departments of] Health, Labor, Human Services, who fail to expend the money on a regular basis, year in and year out,” Mr. Vialet said as he pressed the O.M.B. testifiers for a recommendation of nonperforming employees at the aforementioned departments. “We just lost $1.5 million and you come from Human Services, you can’t pay vendors, you can’t meet your bills but you’re letting money go back, and that $1.5 million is just the start,”  Mr. Vialet said.

To fix the problem, Mr. Rhymer said O.M.B. needs to once again be the lead in policymaking, whereby the office would set standards that department and agencies would have to follow. “If they don’t follow it then there’s accountability you have to actually enforce afterwards,” Mr. Rhymer said.

Senator Kurt Vialet, in agreement with Mr. Rhymer, said, “My recommendation has been that the grants manager needs to come under your office.”

Senator Tregenza Roach asked whether grants managers are involved in the application for grants process, stating that their involvement would be beneficial because of how detailed the process is. “You have to provide so much detail with regard to how you intend to use these funds that if you simply follow that from the onset, you already have a framework for spending,” Mr. Roach said. “Because you would have to put so much detail about what you’re going to do with the resources. So if the managers are involved in that place in the process, I think that’s a head start.”

O.M.B.’s 2019 budget request totals $32.7 million, a significant increase from last year as $28.1 million from the miscellaneous budget is added to its regular operating budget in Fiscal Year 2019.

Tags: , ,

Ernice Gilbert
I wear many hats, I suppose, but the one which fits me best would be journalism, second to that would be radio personality, thirdly singer/songwriter and down the line. I've been the Editor-In-Chief at my videogames website, Gamesthirst, for over 5 years, writing over 7,000 articles and more than 2 million words. I'm also very passionate about where I live, the United States Virgin Islands, and I'm intent on making it a better place by being resourceful and keeping our leaders honest. VI Consortium was birthed out of said desire, hopefully my efforts bear fruit. Reach me at [email protected].

Previous Post

Watch: On Tucker Carlson Show, Congressman Says Mapp's State Of Emergency Declaration Violates Second Amendment

Next Post

VI Royal Festival And Wellness Conference Starts Today On St. Croix

You might also like

Leave a Reply

More Story

Watch: On Tucker Carlson Show, Congressman Says Mapp's State Of Emergency Declaration Violates Second Amendment

Congressman Rob Bishop, the chairman U.S. House Natural Resources Committee, went on the Tucker Carlson Show Thursday on Fox News...

July 20, 2018