Florida affordable housing agency dinged by state auditor


AUDIT: State affordable housing agency lacked important internal controls.

By William Patrick | Florida Watchdog

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A Florida affordable housing agency that received $1 billion in federal stimulus funds had problems meeting professional auditing standards required by law, according to a recent state auditor general’s report.

The Florida Housing Finance Corporation provides government assistance to individuals with low and moderate income and was tasked with helping struggling homeowners affected by the financial market collapse of 2008.

A review of its internal auditing activities, designed to “promote economy and efficiency and to prevent and detect fraud, waste, and abuse,” shows the agency came up short in some key areas.

The FHFC’s own inner-agency inspector general failed to document whether certain standards relating to risk, errors and fraud were met over the course of last year.

“Absent appropriate engagement documentation, the Office cannot demonstrate compliance with all applicable (International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing.) Such documentation would provide greater assurance that audits are planned, conducted, and reported in a manner consistent with professional auditing standards,” states the Florida Auditor General report.

In a response statement, Stephen a. Auger, executive director of FHFC, blamed several employees no longer with the agency.

“Upon being hired in August 2013, the current (FHFC) Inspector General began a comprehensive review of the office’s operations which resulted in a restructuring of the office and hiring new staff,” Auger said.

In 2010, as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the federal government established a $7.6 billion Hardest Hit Fund for states disproportionately affected by the housing crisis. Florida received more than $1 billion.

As Watchdog.org previously reported, just 13 percent of Hardest Hit Funds had gone toward helping Florida’s struggling homeowners by the end of 2013.

A spokesperson for the agency told Watchdog.org the funding was on track according to guidelines outlined by the U.S. Department of Treasury.

Contact William Patrick at wpatrick@watchdog.org