Joe Nelson, The (San Bernardino County) Sun
Posted: 11/08/2011 12:48:26 PM PST

In what is being called an unusual move, the San Bernardino County Grand Jury is refuting claims by San Bernardino International Airport officials that its audit on airport operations was riddled with errors.

The alleged errors were cited in the San Bernardino International Airport Authority (SBIAA) Commission’s formal response to the Grand Jury’s performance audit of the airport released in June.

“These claims of factual or foundational errors within the grand jury report by the SBIAA Commission are unsupported by the material and documentation and the grand jury strongly disagrees with your representation of the audit,” according to the Nov. 3 letter addressed to the SBIAA Commission president, San Bernardino Mayor Pat Morris.

The 16-page letter was written by Edward “Ted” Burgnon, foreman of the 2011-2012 Grand Jury and a retired California Highway Patrol captain in Victorville.

“The Commission’s written response to our audit consistently misrepresents our findings and provides vast amounts of information that is superfluous to the audit topics,” wrote Burgnon.

For example, former Airport Director Donald Rogers criticized the Grand Jury for not noting past accomplishments and improvements at the airport, and that the Grand Jury did not conduct “meaningful comparisons” to other agencies.

Rogers misstated the purpose and scope of a performance audit, which is to assess the efficiency, effectiveness and economy of an organization, Burgnon said in the letter.

“This was precisely the objective of the Grand Jury audit, and we found many opportunities for improvement at SBIAA,” according to Burgnon’s letter.

While Rogers said he identified a number of “significant factual errors and misstatements” in the audit report, he failed to provide an itemized list of such errors and misstatements, the letter said.

In addition, the airport commission relied heavily on third-party contractors to respond to the Grand Jury report and were provided with narrowly defined questions – information provided only by airport staff, according to Burgnon’s letter.

Forty percent of the airport commission’s 583-page response – 236 pages – consisted of policies and procedures that were adopted after the completion of the audit, according to the letter.

An additional 43 pages consisted of an economic impact analysis that did not address the Grand Jury’s findings on the airport’s internal controls, construction management, acquisition of used aviation equipment, a $1 million settlement with airport developer Scot Spencer, or the commission’s relationship with contractors, Burgnon’s letter said.

The bottom line: The Airport Authority’s response was “irrelevant for purposes of evaluating the audit findings,” according to Burgnon’s letter.

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