The Florida Auditor General Office’s annual operational audit of Triumph Gulf Coast Inc. recently found several areas in which the nonprofit corporation needs improvement.
In response, Triumph’s attorney stated that the group agrees with each of the auditor’s recommendations.
Established in 2013, the nonprofit Triumph Gulf Coast oversees the expenditure of 75% of the money that British Petroleum agreed to pay Florida as compensation for economic damages caused by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
The Triumph board of directors administers the money, which totals about $1.5 billion, on behalf of eight Northwest Florida counties: Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, Gulf, Franklin and Wakulla.
In April, the board gave conceptual approval to Okaloosa County’s request for $64.1 million in Triumph money for the southwest Crestview bypass.
The state’s audit was completed by early May and focused on the administration of Triumph project/program monetary awards and certain administrative activities.
According to one audit finding, Triumph records failed to clearly show that award applicants were given the specific reason in writing why their proposed project or program appeared ineligible for funding. The audit recommended Triumph provide such reasoning so applicants can address any shortcomings.
Other Triumph records did not sufficiently show the basis for paying Triumph’s executive director and the law firm that the corporation used for services rendered pro-bono from November 2015 through June 2017.
In October 2015, an individual and officials from the law firm agreed to work without charge as Triumph’s interim executive director and legal advisers, respectively, until funding became available, according to the audit report.
In February 2018, board-authorized payments of $103,944 to the executive director and $90,335 to the law firm were made after they provided supporting documents, such as a statement of hours worked for Triumph before the funding came in.
The auditors, however, recommend “that Triumph ensure that all payments for services rendered by staff or independent contractors be evidenced by a written employment or contracted services agreement or other records detailing the services to be rendered, performance expectations, and compensation to be provided.”
The auditors’ last recommendation called for Triumph to periodically review its bank authorization records to ensure that the list of board members authorized to initiate electronic funds transfers is accurate.
In a May 14 letter to Auditor General Sherrill Norman, Triumph attorney Scott Remington wrote that Triumph:
Has started the process of notifying in writing the specific basis for an award applicant’s ineligibility determination and providing the information necessary to address proposal shortcomings
Now requires a written employment or contracted services agreement prior to payments for services rendered
Is updating its policies and procedures that pertain to its controls over electronic fund transfers.