Statewide Audit Finds Major Problems With Federal Money

7 years 9 months 3 weeks ago Monday, April 02 2012 Apr 2, 2012 Monday, April 02, 2012 5:29:00 PM CDT April 02, 2012 in News
By: Mengti Xu
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JEFFERSON CITY - State Auditor Tom Schweich held a news conference Monday to further deliver results of the 2011 Statewide Single Audit after releasing a report Mar. 30. During the conference, he pointed out five major problems related to significant waste and mismanagement from nine departments that used federal funds under audit.

First, there are eligibility issues associated with people who receive benefits from the federal funding like Medicaid and child care programs.

Second, some departments didn't effectively complete the monitoring function for the federal funds.

Third, the audit found some departments were charging unallowable costs.

Fourth, some departments did poor accounting controls.

Finally, the audit found one misuse of almost $700 thousand dollars by the Human Development Corporation of Metropolitan St. Louis in a program to help pay energy costs for low-income families.

Schweich said since The U.S. has a big budget deficit, people become more sensitive to federal awards than they used to be. Moreover, he said the stimulus money has been highly controversial, so people want to track carefully.

"When we find an agency that is not spending federal money properly, we ask for a correction plan," said Schweich. "And they are required to submit that in writing to the state of administration. And then we will monitor next year to see if they actually implement that corrective action."

Although Schweich said departments under audit were receptive when they heard about the problems the audit found, he had some disagreements with some departments, such as the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

"They don't monitor the money until well after the fiscal year is over, when in our views, it's too late to do anything about it," Schweich said.

The audit also found problems on stimulus money that went to the higher education.

"For the stimulus money that went to the higher education, colleges and universities, they did hire somebody to monitor the expenditure of the award in real time," said Schweich. "They received reports on what needed to be done, but there wasn't a follow through to make sure the changes occurred."

Although the audit also showed some good signs that the Department of Natural Resources, Mental Health and Transportation didn't have any adverse findings. 

Chief Financial Officer Roberta Broeker praised her partners at the Department of Transportation.

"We also have great partners in the federal highway administration some people who are here in Jefferson City and can help us make sure we are doing the right things every day," Broeker said.

She said federal funds made up an important component of transportation revenues, and every project and program in the department gets a share of the funds. Therefore, the department has to make sure nothing goes wrong with the money. 

"We have a lot of levels of different people who are responsible for that, so we have the people who work in our county department; we have internal auditors who watch this," Broeker said.

However, right now, the department only has enough money from federal funds for its projects for another 90 days. Broeker said she feels concerned about a possible decreasing in the funds in the future, which would force the department to cut its projects and programs.

According to the audit, Missouri used $14.2 billion in federal funds in 2011, and four departments used 91 percent of the total funds, which were Social Services, Labor and Industrial Relations, Transportation, and Elementary and Secondary Education.

Schweich said he plans to contact each departments to discuss corrective plans for the next year.

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