NOAA officials announced Thursday that a comprehensive independent audit of micro-purchases "found no abuse" of the asset forfeiture fund for fisheries that was subject of a scathing report documenting improper large-scale purchases and mismanagement a year ago by the U.S. Commerce Department's inspector general.
But in a telephone interview Thursday soon after NOAA's release went out, that Inspector general, Todd Zinser, disputed the findings as described in a statement by Maureen Whylie, the chief financial officer for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
"The auditors who examined transactions from 2005 to 2010 found no significant deficiencies as defined by accounting standards," Whylie said in a prepared statement that was released together with the findings of the Calverton, Md., office of the certified public accounting firm, Clifton Gunderson.
The IG's office was provided a copy of the report that Zinser said his staff was reviewing.
"I don't find NOAA's news release particularly helpful," the IG said.
He added that, in reviewing the smaller charges to the fund's account, Clifton Gunderson reported finding "lots of transactions that lacked documentation."