Audit: CDC couldn't account for $8.2M in government purchases

"These inaccuracies occurred because CDC did not always adjust the property system to reflect the results of the annual physical inventory and did not barcode all newly acquired property for entry in the property system," the audit says. "Based on these continuing problems with property accountability, we concluded that CDC had not fully implemented the recommendations in our prior report to strengthen management controls over property."

The CDC said it concurred with the audit's finding while pointing out that it had already begun efforts to improve its record keeping. A spokeswoman for the CDC tells The Hill that the new report comes after the agency has already resolved many of the problems in the 2007 audit.

"The OIG report comes out two years after CDC identified and initiated improvements in property management such as creating a Property Task Force and full time property management officer; implementing a Property Management Information System; and establishing training requirements for all property management staff to ensure proper accounting and tracking," Karen Hunter said in an e-mail.

With a $6.4 billion budget and almost 9,800 employees in 2010, the Atlanta-based CDC is charged with protecting public health through monitoring, research and prevention. The audit said the agency could improve its record keeping by: 

• Adjusting the property system based on annual physical inventory results and removing from the property system any lost or missing property;

• Ensuring that all newly acquired property items are barcoded and correctly added to the property system; and

• Reconciling the general ledger to the property system to identify any outstanding discrepancies and resolving such discrepancies.

The 29 errors in the audit's samples included 17 items that could not be located at all. The audit faulted the agency for failing to add the purchased items (such as a $36,000 microplate reader) to its property database. According to the CDC, this includes leased items that were returned after completion of the lease but were not updated in the property database.

The audit also found that the CDC recorded 12 of the items in the sample at amounts lower than their purchase price. A $62,000 microscope, for example, was registered as $32,000.

Young said those items have since been accounted for, "making the inventory 100 percent complete."

This post was updated at 4:30 p.m. with reaction from the CDC