• The Star Staff

Fiscal board hires contractor to assess gov’t procurements



By The Star Staff


The Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico has hired independent contractor Wanda E. Moorman to oversee the commonwealth’s procurement processes, according to the contract published on the board’s website.


The move comes amid recent irregularities in government procurement processes, including in the purchase of coronavirus equipment. The oversight board filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court on Monday to force the administration of Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced to hand over all documents related to contracts for the purchase of COVID-19 test kits and other medical supplies during the pandemic emergency after the government gave a $40 million contract to a company that lacked the required experience.


The contract with Moorman will be effective starting Aug. 3. Some of the responsibilities detailed in the contract include promoting the use of technologies to accomplish procurement objectives, providing regular reporting on contracts’ status, and identifying opportunities for procurement process improvement.


Her contract was capped at $110,000 per year, the maximum amount chargeable by Moorman, plus valid reimbursed expenses. The contract is set to expire on June 30, 2021.

Meanwhile, the oversight board wrote to the government informing it that the commonwealth’s 2020 third quarter financial report has some inconsistencies with regard to the certified budget.


The information is contained in a July 14 letter. In the letter sent by Board Executive Director Natalie Jaresko to Vázquez, the Board listed the inconsistencies as follows:


(i) Significant underspend in actual PayGo as compared to budgeted PayGo disbursements;


(ii) Actual overspend and projected overspend in payroll for several agencies;


(iii) Projected overspend in operational expenditures (OpEx) for several agencies;


(iv) Incomplete reporting of actual expenditures for several agencies;


(v) Budgetary adjustments reflected in incorrect periods and late or no monthly closing of accounting books and records; and


(vi) Significant reported underspending of CapEx budgeted funds.


The government is hereby required to provide detailed explanations to the oversight board no later than July 30.


Separately, the oversight board identified in the Highways and Transportation Authority’s (HTA) third quarterly financial report a series of violations of the fiscal year 2020 certified budget.


In the letter that Jaresko sent to Vázquez and HTA Executive Director Rosana Aguilar, she said the violations of the certified budget undermine HTA’s fiscal sustainability and its ability to effectively deliver capital improvements that would improve mobility, increase transport convenience, and lower the cost of doing business.


“HTA is hereby required to provide to the oversight board detailed explanations for the budget-to-actual variances described above, as well as detailed explanations for the non-compliance with respect to measures contained in the certified budget and certified fiscal plan, no later than 30 July,” the letter said.

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