Over 700 Barges Stranded by Mississippi River Closure in Memphis Due to Bridge Crack
The U.S. Coast Guard said 44 vessels with a total of 709 barges are now in the queue as a 1-miles stretch of the Mississippi River remains closed after a...
Word comes via the US Merchant Marine Academy Alumni Association that the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy has named an acting Superintendent to handle the position left vacant by the resignation of Rear Admiral Allen Worley back in November. He held the position for a year.
KUMAR TAKES THE HELM
Dr Shashi Kumar, Ph.D., Master Mariner and the Academy’s 12th Academic Dean has again taken the helm as the Interim Superintendent effective January 4th. He served as Interim Superintendent October 1 through November 14, 2008 while the Academy was then searching for a new Superintendent. Prior to joining USMMA, Dr. Kumar was the founding Dean of the Loeb-Sullivan School of International Business and Logistics at Maine Maritime Academy. He earned an unlimited Master Mariner (UK) certificate of competency and sailed extensively for a decade before entering academe. His significant accomplishments include the Transport Reviews’ 1st prize for new PhD’s in transportation, an award for excellence in teaching; Sam M. Walton Free Enterprise Fellowship (1998-2006) as well as the Maine International Innovator of the Year Award. Dr. Kumar has published extensively and authors an annual review of the U.S. Merchant Marine for the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings. He continues to serve as the Academy’s Academic Dean.
Best wishes to Dr. Kumar in carrying out his two jobs.
It remains to be seen how the position will finally be filled, again. As a graduate, I believe that an ideal candidate would be another graduate. The Academy does need a strong leader, if for no other reason but to lobby the Government on behalf of the school. After all, there is no ‘Merchant Marine’ wing in the Pentagon to look after the school. The Academy is also working it’s way through the findings of a critical GAO Report from August 2009. (UNITED STATES MERCHANT MARINE ACADEMY – Internal Control Weaknesses Resulted in Improper Sources and Uses of Funds; Some Corrective Actions Are Under Way)
What GAO Found
GAO identified numerous instances of improper and questionable sources and uses of funds by the Academy and its affiliated organizations. These improprieties and questionable payments GAO identified demonstrate that, while MARAD and the Academy have been taking action to improve the Academy’s internal controls, the Academy did not have assurance that it complied with applicable fund control requirements, including the Antideficiency Act (ADA). Further, the Academy had numerous breakdowns in its important stewardship responsibilities with respect to maintaining accountability over the receipt and use of funds. For example, GAO identified improper and questionable midshipmen fee transactions related to: (1) fee collections and uses of fees unrelated to goods and services provided to all midshipmen, (2) fee collections that exceeded the actual expense to the Academy for the goods or services, and (3) the use of accumulated excess midshipmen fees for improper and questionable purposes.
GAO found that a weak overall control environment and the flawed design and implementation of internal controls were the root causes of the Academy’s inability to prevent or effectively detect numerous instances of improper and questionable sources and uses of funds. Specifically, GAO found that there was a lack of awareness or support for strong internal control and accountability across the Academy at all levels and risks, such as those that flow from a lack of clear organizational roles and responsibilities and from significant activities with affiliated organizations. The internal control weaknesses GAO identified were systemic and could have been identified in a timely manner had Academy and MARAD management had a more effective oversight and monitoring regimen. For example, GAO found that the Academy did not routinely prepare financial reports and information for use by internal and external users.
GAO found that various actions were taken and in process that were intended to improve the Academy’s internal controls, including actions to address issues of accountability with its affiliated organizations. For example, a permanent position of Assistant Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for the Academy was established in March 2009 with direct reporting responsibility to the MARAD CFO. This action provides a senior financial official at the Academy with authority to conduct needed oversight and monitoring of financial activities on a real time basis. Further, following discussions GAO had with Department and MARAD officials, the MARAD CFO took steps to secure and protect accumulated reserves held in commercial bank accounts of an affiliated organization. However, even though MARAD and the Academy have taken actions, much more needs to be done, including determining the amount of midshipmen fees that were used to cover official Academy expenses, performing a comprehensive analysis of the risks posed by the Academy’s organizational structure and its relationships with its affiliated organizations, and establishing and implementing policies, procedures, and internal controls over many Academy activities.
I have heard at least one person comment that the GAO report helped do in the most recent Superintendent, even though he came in after the fact.
Posted by Fred Fry
Join the 69,455 members that receive our newsletter.
Have a news tip? Let us know.