CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Several of the items listed in the Putnam County Health Department's budget for its 2012 and 2013 federal threat preparedness grants may never have been purchased, according to records.
In its monthly finance reports submitted to the state Department of Health and Human Resources, the PCHD listed several items purchased with those grant funds, including a diesel generator and convertible hand truck valued at nearly $7,000.
But when Putnam County held an auction on Nov. 2 that included assets from the Health Department, neither item was part of the PCHD's inventory, according to Andy Skidmore, a health board member and the commissioner who oversaw the auction.
The Gazette filed a Freedom of Information Act request for a list of all assets owned by the Health Department, but was told that no such list exists.
"The Putnam County Health Department did not maintain a list of capital assets and/or materials. Therefore, we are unable to provide you supporting documentation for equipment listed in financial reports by the PCHD to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources," Lolita Kirk, the interim administrator for the Putnam agency and administrator for the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, wrote to the Gazette in response.
The PCHD is currently under federal investigation and the threat preparedness money given to the agency comes from an annual federal grant. The money is awarded to county and municipal health departments by the DHHR, but according to Allison Adler, a DHHR spokeswoman, the agency is not responsible for maintaining records of purchases made by local health departments.
"The Center for Threat Preparedness does not maintain an inventory list -- nor are they required by the grant to maintain an inventory list -- of items purchased with federal grant funds by local health departments in West Virginia," Adler said. "Local health departments are autonomous and they maintain their own fiscal accounting processes and systems."
The DHHR is responsible for disbursing federal grants to local agencies. When asked what forms of oversight the DHHR employed in regulating the spending of its sub-grantees, Adler said there were guidelines in place, but did not outline any specific guidelines the agency uses to keep track of local records.
"As outlined in DHHR centralized policy, there are a number of mechanisms available to spending units for monitoring all grants, some of which are outlined as mandatory requirements and some of which are available to spending units as part of a discretionary, targeted monitoring approach to address specific issues and needs of the program in question," she said.
The DHHR initially requested $50 per hour to procure documents related to the PCHD. According to state code, it is unlawful for agencies to request compensation beyond the physical cost of making copies of documents related to FOIA requests.
In budgets submitted for the fiscal year 2012, the PCHD also claimed to have purchased a smart board valued at $4,985, as well as $1,500 in iPad accessories, $2,400 in travel related to threat preparedness, $1,200 in cell phone expenses related to threat preparedness and a trailer for $4,098.