NJOSC Praises Vander Weele Group Integrity Review Identifying $7 Million in Recoupable COVID Funds
In a 2023 letter to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the Office of the State Comptroller announced the conclusion of its investigation into questionable COVID relief payments provided to small business owners through the Marine Fisheries Assistance Grant Program. The letter praised a report issued as part of a concurrent integrity review by the Vander Weele Group and Deluca Advisory Services, which "reached substantially similar conclusions" to its own.
As part of the independent integrity review, the team conducted a thorough review of NJDEP’s financial, application, and administrative processes for all components of the $14.4 million program. Collectively, the NJOSC, DLS, and the Vander Weele Group identified the following key findings:
at least 41 percent of program payments disbursed to applicants, or a total of $5.9 million, are subject to possible recoupment due to overpayment or ineligibility, and
34 percent of applicants reviewed failed to provide complete documentation to support their awards when requested, subjecting an additional $1.1 million in relief payments to potential recoupment.
In total, more than $7 million (roughly 49 percent) of Marine Fisheries program relief payments may be subject to recoupment.