MONTPELIER -- The Vermont state auditor is looking at the way the state Department of Health managed three bioterrorism grants totaling $629,565 to help hospitals prepare for biological attacks.
The audit is looking at how the Health Department accounted for money given to other organizations, said Deputy Auditor George Thabault.
The report is nearing completion, but Thabault would not say what prompted the investigation or what conclusions were being drawn.
"That's under review right now," Thabault said. "It's a work in progress."
Acting Health Commissioner Sharon Moffatt said yesterday that the audit was looking at how the department transfers money to the other organizations, called subrecipients.
"We've got some important lessons to learn from this audit," said Moffatt. "I think the state auditor's office is helping us work through those lessons. The most important thing is we, the Health Department, take very seriously the responsibility for the strict monitoring of these precious resources, be they state or federal."
Moffatt said the department would comment more once the final audit is released.
Jason Gibbs, a spokesman for Governor Jim Douglas, said one of the organizations that received money from the Health Department was the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems.
"A federal grant that gets passed through the Department of Health was given to the hospital association and others," Gibbs said. "There is some question about appropriate accounting of how the money was spent."
Michael Del Trecco, vice president of finance for the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, said the grants were received by the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems Network Service Organization, a separate entity from the main organization.
Beyond explaining the difference between the two groups, he would not comment on the audit.
Thabault said that since 2004 the Vermont Department of Health had received $5.7 million in grants as part of the National Bioterrorism Hospital Preparedness Program. The three grants that are being looked at are part of that larger figure, Thabault said.