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Editorials

HUD's accounting flagged

| Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016, 4:24 p.m.

Its books have been such a mess for years that nobody — not even its own inspector general — knows whether the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development handles public money properly.

The HUD inspector general's latest audit “found 11 ‘material weaknesses,' seven ‘significant deficiencies' in internal controls, and five instances of ‘noncompliance with applicable laws and regulations,'” according to The Daily Caller. The website also says the IG has reported “the same conclusions ... for three straight years” and “officials refuse to explain why they haven't fixed poor accounting practices and useless financial books.”

The IG even reported that for three years running, HUD subsidiary Ginnie Mae, which helped inflate 2008's disastrous housing bubble, “could not bring its material asset balances” related to some loan assets “into an audit-able state.”

Bill Bergman, research director for the Chicago-based nonprofit government watchdog group Truth in Accounting, says the private sector wouldn't put up with HUD-style accounting. And a Citizens Against Government Waste spokesman says “HUD's failure to properly maintain basic financial documents calls into question (its) commitment to safeguarding taxpayer dollars.”

It sure does. And there's no acceptable excuse for such slipshod record keeping — which the incoming Trump administration must keep in mind as it revamps HUD from top to bottom.

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