POSTED: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - 6:49pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - 6:53pm
BATON ROUGE, La (NBC33) — The state Inspector General's office says they're auditing the Mayor's and Governor's Offices of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. Questions have been raised about how some federal grant money was being spent.
The issue is over more than four million dollars in Homeland Security grant money allotted to East Baton Rouge parish since 2008. Senator Dan Claitor represents the southern part of Baton Rouge. He sent a letter to the Inspector General's office, requesting an audit of both GOHSEP and MOHSEP.
"If there are problems with bookkeeping work, and the way these things are distributed, it's not just a problem for Baton Rouge. It's a problem for the whole state," Claitor explains. "It's questions about the accounting practices and what's going on there."
He wasn't alone in his concerns. Metro Council member, Chandler Loupe, also sent a letter requesting an audit. Turns out, the Inspector General's office was already on it.
"There have been a number of questions raised about expenditures and it seems both sides have set their feet in concrete," says Inspector General Stephen Street.
Under the Homeland Security grant program, EBR parish leaders will let GOHSEP know how they'll spend the grant money. Then, they'll send receipts to GOHSEP to be reimbursed.The questions come over how MOHSEP spent more than four million dollars in that grant money and if those purchases will even qualify to be reimbursed.
"The goal there is to get to the truth of whatever the funds are being properly spent," says Street, "whether they're being spent in accordance with the law and the guidelines that are set up."
Now, an unbiased team of investigators will go in and get to the bottom of the situation. "We have no agenda other than getting to the truth. That's it, and we want to thorough and fair to all sides."
Senator Claitor says he's happy to have a third party working on the issues.
"I just want to make sure that the money is properly spent and accounted for," he says.
He wants to make sure that the state and the parish can move forward together.
"I want to make sure we don't somehow kill opportunities to work with the federal government to make sure Baton Rouge is safe," he says.
Both agencies are cooperating with the Inspector General's office. A spokesperson for MOHSEP says the agency welcomes the audit. That's because they feel they did everything right.
Street says there's no set timeline for how long this audit will take.