Charleston, WV - Although the Legislative Auditor is pleased to hear from Gov. Jim Justice that 18 families have received keys to a new home under the RISE West Virginia Program, the office stands by the Post Audit Division’s audit on the program and offers a point of clarification on the assertion that the report is not accurate.
“While we hope that the State’s citizens have been served, we stand by the data presented in our audit report on the RISE West Virginia program,” Legislative Auditor Aaron Allred said.
During Sunday’s Post Audits Subcommittee meeting, Audit Manager Adam Fridley indicated the Legislative Auditor questioned whether any services had been fully rendered under the program. He indicated to the Subcommittee this question was based on paid invoice data from the State Auditor’s transparency website.
Mr. Fridley further said the Legislative Auditor’s question is based on 49 invoices paid to the construction vendors as of June 1, 2018. Although this was made clear during his remarks, the Governor’s Office is correct to point out that the written report, released Sunday, June 24, did not explicitly state: “as of June 1, 2018.”
The Legislative Auditor agrees this distinction should have been clear in the written report and has directed his Post Audit Division to rectify this omission in the version of the report posted on the Legislature’s website. Before the audit was released, the Department of Commerce and the Governor’s Office were given three separate opportunities to raise any concerns with the contents of the report. The Post Audit Division sent a draft copy of the report to both the Department of Commerce and the Governor’s Office, offering them a chance to provide a written response. No written response was provided to the Legislative Auditor.
The letter also offered each office the opportunity to sit down with Mr. Fridley to discuss any concerns. Mr. Fridley met with representatives of the Governor’s Office last Thursday, June 21, 2018. At no point during the meeting were concerns raised with the Legislative Auditor’s question related to completed homes.
Finally, representatives of the Governor’s Office and Major General Hoyer were notified of the meeting date, time, and location where the audit would be presented to the Post Audits Subcommittee. In this correspondence, the Legislative Auditor indicated that a representative would be expected to attend to respond to the report and answer any questions the Subcommittee may have. No representative from the executive branch chose to attend the meeting.
The Legislative Auditor hopes the Governor is correct that numerous West Virginia families have, in fact, received the keys to a new home. However, the Post Audit Division must rely on actual documentation to issue findings and to make conclusions. In this case, the audit report clearly relied upon paid invoices as a measure of the RISE program’s effectiveness.