The Business of the Denali Commission
The Denali Commission is an independent federal agency with its office in Anchorage, Alaska. Congress created it in 1998 through the Denali Commission Act (P.L. 105-277, 42 U.S.C. § 3121). The agency serves as a national “experimental field station” that explores different possibilities for providing basic facilities in remote Alaskan settlements (clinics, powerhouses, fuel tanks, central places to wash clothes and take a shower).
The served settlements are largely in the “other Alaska” that most visitors from the “Lower 48” never see — far from the roads, the power grid, and the state’s scenic railroad. The untamed Yukon, Kuskokwim, and Koyukuk rivers might be considered the far-west extension of “Route 66,” but all three shifting rivers lack the navigation aids found on the commercial waterways in the rest of the nation.
And the bathroom continues to be a bucket for many residents of “bush” Alaska (outhouses on the tundra often aren’t feasible). From a broader international perspective, the public health conditions of the developing third world are still a reality up here. Denali serves places where the electricity is sometimes, the water is undrinkable, the fuel tanks leak, the food rots, the garbage sits, the teeth fall out, a shower is a treat, and people get diseases that we assumed were history.
Office of Inspector General
Both the Denali Commission Act and the Inspector General Act require the commission to have an inspector general. The commission is one of around 70 federal agencies that are now statutorily required to have this oversight function.
Inspector generals monitor the use of federal money by conducting audits, investigations, and project inspections, including the annual financial audit for their agencies. Results are reported to the agency head and Congress. Inspector generals are by law independent of the operating personnel that implement their agencies' programs.
The Denali Commission's inspector general emphasizes the inspection of projects and processes. These inspections are more than a physical look at a facility and a conversation with its surrounding community. The reports of project inspections ask the toughest questions as to the lessons learned and the public value from constructing facilities under challenging conditions.
Semiannual Reports to the Congress
Inspector General's Annual PAR Statement of Manage-ment and Performance Challenges
GAO comptroller general decisions requested by IG
Annual Audits of Agency's Financial Statements
Mike Marsh is the Denali Commission's inspector general. Mike is an attorney, CPA, and certified fraud examiner. His prior experience includes 10 years as an auditor with Alaska's legislative audit division. Before that, he was an assistant municipal attorney in Anchorage and an assistant state's attorney in Illinois. His work as a government attorney includes five years as a prosecutor. He is a graduate of the University of Alaska's MPA program.