Art News, Artists, Music and more!

Report Claims Smithsonian Misused COVID Relief Funds

A report by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) accused the Smithsonian Museum of misusing a portion of its COVID-19 relief funds.

The Smithsonian Museum was granted $7.2 million as part of the COVID-19 relief package under the 2020 CARES Act. This was part of the broad economic stimulus worth $2.2 trillion provided by the US government during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, a report released by OIG on February 23 alleges that the museum had misused a portion of the relief funds. The report found that the museum failed to properly justify the use of the relief funds in certain transactions, particularly those involving single vendors. Out of the 436 transactions that used the relief package money, 49 transactions were investigated. The report found that 9 transactions, cumulatively worth $1.7 million, were sourced from a single vendor. The Smithsonian Museum had a policy that required competition on any transactions worth over $10,000. Any deviation from this policy requires written justification; the transactions in question lacked such justifications.

The report further found that two cleaning services purchase orders were obtained from the same vendor, worth $745,390. Another transition worth almost $100,000 had no justification at all. Another transaction violating the competition policy was an order for face masks and sanitizer bottles worth $500,000. This was after the museum corrected some other questionable transactions during the audit, like a doctor charging 100% of their salary to the relief package, despite not performing any COVID-related duties.

Also Read: British Museum Sues Former Curator Peter Higgs Over Missing Items

The OIG has not yet indicated any action they would take regarding the discrepancies. Meanwhile, the Smithsonian Museum has said that they ‘concur’ with the findings of the report.