State audits: Findings against Bremerton port, SKSD

Recent state audits came up with findings against the South Kitsap School District and Port of Bremerton.

The report on the port was published Sept. 7 for the period Jan. 1, 2020, to Dec. 31, 2022.

The audit found the port did not have adequate internal controls to ensure compliance with procurement requirements for architectural and engineering services. State law requires local governments to publicly solicit qualifications from firms and then select, based on criteria established by the agency, the firm deemed to be the most qualified. State law does not allow exemptions.

The port joined a private-public partnership for the Circuit of the Northwest project, which intends to construct a new road-racing course and related facilities near the Bremerton National Airport. The port awarded a $1.439 million contract to a firm to complete Phase 3 of the project. The port improperly procured the contract as a sole source personal service. The port was pleased with the firm’s work in Phase 2, so did not go through the competitive process.

The port responded saying it is confident there was no loss of public funds related to the incident. It says that firm was the only one that submitted a qualified bid for the previous phase. On the contrary, the port says the firm’s familiarity with the project likely resulted in cost savings.

To ensure future compliance, the port has created a new procurement position to support managers in such situations.

The finding in May against the SKSD was for the period from Sept. 1, 2021, to Aug. 31, 2022.

The adverse opinion concerned federal funds involving Title 1 grants to local educational agencies and COVID-19 education stabilization fund. The audit says the SKSD spent almost $11 million in ESF monies. Federal regulations require recipients to follow certain internal controls.

The district hired a contractor to repair roofs at the high school and one elementary school. About $867, 500 was spent. The state audit says the district did not have adequate internal controls for ensuring compliance with federal wage requirements. The district relied on reports made to the state Department of Labor and Industries rather than obtain certified payrolls each week. The district says it was unaware of the requirement and will fix that in the future.