July 01, 2013

By Bill Jaynes
The Kaselehlie Press

June 20, 2013 Pohnpei, FSM -In terms of the following of specific policies and procedures, Pohnpei Visitor's Bureau (PVB) has received a clean bill of health from the Pohnpei Office of the Public Auditor.

The office conducted an "attestation engagement on agreed upon procedures" for fiscal years 2011 and 2012. The objectives of the attestation were to determine whether the money that PVB spent during those years was spent for official purposes and that they represent valid claims. They also looked into whether or not the expenditures were adequately supported with documents, and that they were properly charged to proper fund account and budget.

According to Ihlen Joseph, the Pohnpei State Auditor, an attestation engagement is performed at the request of a stakeholder in an entity to look into specific matters. In this case, the "stakeholder" was the Pohnpei State Legislature. They requested the attestation engagement.

Mr. Joseph said that, though an attestation engagement differs from a financial audit or a performance audit in that auditors are charged in attestation engagements to look into specific concerns, an attestation engagement does not keep them from reporting anything else that they might find during the course of their investigations.

He said that he was aware when his office began the Attestation Engagement, that five of the articles of impeachment in the resolution to impeach Governor Ehsa were charges that methods of financing the World Park office were illegal. He instructed his staff members to report the facts that they found.

They did precisely that. All expenditures made by PVB were for official purposes. They were properly authorized, and all expenditures were properly documented.

The auditors were able to assure the Legislature that PVB had followed policies on their first two items of engagement.

They also found that expenses were charged to proper fund accounts and budgets. Whether it was legally proper to do so or not, during fiscal year 2012 the $9,506 Private Sector Grant of PVB was used to defray the expenses in the World Park Program. Auditors made no determination regarding the legality of that PVB expenditure.

They did say that PVB's key officials revealed during interviews that they support the World Park Program. Documentation showed that "PVB's Board of Directors were key players in the development of World Park. In addition, the PVB supports the budget for the World Park Pilot Project, World Park Specialist Contracts and materials for World Park," the executive summary says.

"During fiscal year 2011, the PVB shared in the cost of implementing the World Park Pilot Project and the former General Manager of PVB was very supportive to the extent of requesting supplemental funding for PVB to support the World Park."

PVB properly charged World Park support to the proper fund account and budget. Auditors made four findings of management control weaknesses.

Auditors found that PVB's 2012 budget from the Compact Private Sector Grants was $107,000. $9,506.39 of the budget was used to defray World Park expenses. PVB did not make some of the promotional trips it had planned to take in fiscal year 2012 because the money had been used to defray World Park activities.

Auditors found that other than trade shows and conferences some of the activities in which PVB engaged, such as welcoming tourist and guests from foreign countries were not listed in the performance based budget of the public corporation.

The attestation engagement found that there were organization disagreements and conflict amongst PVB employees and between PVB and the World Park project.

Lastly, the attestation engagement found that the deteriorating condition of the PVB building and office hampered its effectiveness of a tourism office, and increases the risk of an unhealthy and unsafe working environment for its employees. Auditors attached pictures of the deplorable conditions including extensive termite damage, water damage, and even a veritable garden growing on the tin roof of the building.