Audit finds fault with Clark County

Deficiencies related to monitoring grant spending

By Andrea Damewood, Columbian staff writer

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Clark County had two "major deficiencies" in internal controls monitoring spending on one federal grant, according to a state audit released this week.

The county faces no financial penalties and is already fixing the two problems identified by the state as it reviewed a $426,273 contract for the Washington State University Extension 78th Street Building Renovation project.

The state audit dings the county for failing to ensure that contractors followed the Davis-Bacon Act to pay federally prescribed prevailing wages to laborers, and to make sure that contractors it hired for the work are not suspended or debarred from doing business with the federal government.

The grant was part of a total $922,466 in federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant stimulus money the county spent in 2011.

John Ingram, finance director in the Clark County Auditor's Office, said the two components were part of one finding.

He said that the federal stimulus grant was an unusual one. Typically, such grants are handled by just the public works department, where training and policies are set.

"The (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) grant doesn't have a history, so went through a few hands before it got to pub works," Ingram said. "That's why we dropped the Davis Bacon component."

The state audit findings agreed with Ingram.

"This was a newer program for the county with several different project managers and departments involved," it read. "A breakdown in communication occurred when determining who would be responsible for ensuring compliance requirements were met."

The project remodeled a building at the Heritage Farm on Northeast 78th Street into office, meeting and storage space for the WSU Clark County Extension office, which then relocated from leased space in Brush Prairie. Several energy efficiency improvements were incorporated into the work.

The city of Vancouver, which also underwent an audit, had no findings.

Andrea Damewood: 360-735-4542; http://www.twitter.com/col_cityhall;andrea.damewood@columbian.com.