Ben Carson was the first neurosurgeon to successfully separate conjoined twins, so, he's kind of a super hero.
But apparently, he's also not a bad accountant.
President Trump picked Carson to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development, whose budget grew by leaps and bounds under Barack Obama.
In one of his first acts as HUD Secretary, Carson ordered an audit of the agency. What he found was staggering: $520 billion in bookkeeping errors.
"The total amounts of errors corrected in HUD’s notes and consolidated financial statements were $516.4 billion and $3.4 billion, respectively," the auditors wrote.
But there were plenty of other problems, too. Here is an excerpt from the report:
There were several other unresolved audit matters, which restricted our ability to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to express an opinion. These unresolved audit matters relate to (1) the Office of General Counsel’s refusal to sign the management representation letter, (2) HUD’s improper use of cumulative and first-in, first-out budgetary accounting methods of disbursing community planning and development program funds, (3) the $4.2 billion in nonpooled loan assets from Ginnie Mae’s stand-alone financial statements that we could not audit due to inadequate support, (4) the improper accounting for certain HUD assets and liabilities, and (5) material differences between HUD’s subledger and general ledger accounts. This audit report contains 11 material weaknesses, 7 significant deficiencies, and 5 instances of noncompliance with applicable laws and regulations.
The same problems were detailed for each of the last three audits, and the auditors say the continued problems “were due to an inability to establish a compliant control environment, implement adequate financial accounting systems, retain key financial staff, and identify appropriate accounting principles and policies."
So, look for Carson to get out his scalpel and start operating. Or perhaps he'll use a machete.
Update: Snopes fact-checked the above claims and labeled them "mostly false," citing the fact that Carson did not initiate the most recent audit and that he did not "recover" $500 billion in funds, which is not claimed above, only that the most recent audit reported that much "in bookkeeping errors." Below is an excerpt from Snopes fact-check:
The audit was initiated before Ben Carson assumed his position at HUD, and it reckons an aggregate figure of accounting errors and not an actual recovery of $500 billion in funds. [...]
The referenced audit was actually initiated by HUD’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG), who originally issued an independent auditor’s report on 15 November 2016 (over two months before Dr. Carson was confirmed as the new HUD secretary), along with a disclaimer noting that many discrepancies and information gaps existed within HUD’s financial statements and notes. That report was subsequently replaced with a “reissued” version dated 1 March 2017.