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LA - Louisiana auditor, coastal protection agency disagree on extent of monitoring for federal funds

(The Center Square) — The Louisiana Legislative Auditor contends the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority is not complying with requirements to monitor federal funds it disperses, though agency officials disagree with that assessment.

Louisiana Legislative Auditor Mike Waguespack issued an audit report last week that examined CPRA finances, internal controls over financial reporting and compliance and whether the agency complied with applicable laws and regulations in Fiscal Year 2021.

The one significant finding came in regards to monitoring requirements for funds disbursed through the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act. Of CPRA's $73.8 million in expenditures, $60.9 million went to coastal political subdivisions, local groups reimbursed by CPRA for infrastructure construction, levee improvements, engineering and design work and real estate acquisition.

The local groups on the coast enter into agreements with private vendors to provide construction, engineering and design, and real estate services for each project. The relationship between CPSs receiving reimbursement and the CPRA is where the dispute over the agency's reporting requirements stems.

"GoMESA funds are received by the state of Louisiana annually without an accompanying grant award document, which is typically the document that identifies the applicable federal requirements the recipient agency must comply with," the audit explained. "Absent an award document, the auditors used the GoMESA Act and the Assistance Listing to identify applicable compliance requirements."

Auditors' interpretation of the federal reporting requirements concluded that the relationships between the CPRA and local groups are subrecipient relationships that come with federal reporting requirements, while the CPRA considers local governments as contractors that don't fall under the subrecipient requirements.

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