Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On!

August 24, 2011 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

Don’t panic! It was only a “minor” earthquake.

I suppose it’s only fitting to relate my personal story from yesterday’s rare East Coast earthquake (boy does it sound weird to say that).  Not to say that auditors aren’t a lively bunch, but I never thought I’d be in a room with hundreds of auditors when I’d feel the earth move.

I was attending a session on improper payments at the AICPA’s National Governmental Accounting and Audition Confrence East at the J.W. Marriott in Washington, D.C. (articles from the conference will be coming up to subscribers of the Single Audit Information Service). National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers Executive Director Kinney Poynter, who had earlier noted that this was the first time he had attended this particular conference in D.C. (and after this experience, one wonders if he will attend another), had just finished his very informative presentation and had given way to the HHS’s Sheila Conway when the room vibrated briefly before swaying pretty violently for about 10 seconds. Then it was over and attendees looked at each other, stunned but safe, and wondering what to do next.

As it was happening, I immediately knew what it was although I had never experienced an earthquake in my 46 years of living on the East Coast. However, there’s this surreal moment when you wonder whether you’re in danger and you try to grasp the concept of an earthquake…here…in D.C.? C’mon, man!

Anyway, after we all were told to evacuate the hotel as a precautionary move (standing on the sidewalk with the rest of D.C.), hotel management eventually let people back in and the conference resumed.

The earthquake may have given East Coast auditors one more thing to check for in future risk assessment of grant programs. They may not be building inspectors, but perhaps auditors conducing performance audits may want to note whether or not certain properties or repairs funded with grant dollars are structurally sound to withstand that rare 5.8 earthquake (for example, check back to a blog I did in February on a LIHEAP audit).

They say this was the strongest earthquake we’ve had in Virginia in more than 100 years. You guys on the West Coast may be used to these, but frankly, I hope it’s another 100 years before the next Virginia earthquake.

Tell us about your earthquake experiences and how they could affect your grant programs or your audits? This would make for interesting reading!

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