Statement from Maureen Wylie, NOAA chief financial officer

June 16, 2011

“We are pleased to report that the accounting firm Clifton Gunderson, LLP, conducted an independent audit of NOAA’s Asset Forfeiture Fund and the fund’s audited financial statements received an unqualified (clean) opinion, or the best type of audit opinion one can receive.

“The unqualified opinion means that NOAA’s accounting for the fund’s balance and the transactions for the year ending March 31, 2011 are presented fairly in accordance with general accounting principles. The audit confirmed that the fund’s balance is $7.5 million as of then.

“Ensuring that the fund is properly accounted and used is essential to carrying out our duties as responsible managers of federal dollars and as stewards of coastal and marine resources. Our ability to carry out these duties depends in large part upon the maintenance of proper internal controls.

“While the audit opinion is good news, NOAA remains committed to continuing to improve the oversight and the accountability of the fund. The auditors have identified areas that can and should be improved through management’s attention. This is not uncommon during an audit and we are prepared to take the necessary steps to ensure the identified areas are resolved before the next audit of the fund financial statements. NOAA is committed to developing a corrective action plan designed to address the recommendations offered by Clifton Gunderson, LLP by July 31.”

Background

This audit was undertaken at the direction of Dr. Jane Lubchenco, under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator, as part of a comprehensive action plan to ensure that monies collected from fisheries enforcement penalties are properly accounted for and used. The audit is one of a number of significant steps that NOAA has taken to improve transparency and accountability in its enforcement program.

A full timeline of NOAA Enforcement program improvements since March 2009 is available at http://www.noaa.gov/lawenforcementupdates/timeline.html

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