Friday, May 17, 2024

Louisiana audit finds issues with COVID relief funds for schools, child care

by BIZ Magazine

By Steve Wilson | The Center Square

A report by Louisiana’s legislative auditor found that the state Department of Education didn’t abide by federal guidelines for grants and overpaid several child care providers.

The report by Louisiana Legislative Auditor Mike Waguespack’s office found that the agency reported incorrect information, didn’t submit timely reports, and didn’t enter the names of some sub grantees. The report also says the agency overpaid six child care providers by $59,063 from pandemic-related federal relief funds and the agency in a further review found overpayments to 11 providers totaling $887,212.

Auditors said, “The overpayments occurred because of system processing errors, incorrect eligibility determinations, and duplicate payments that were made in error.” The report says the education department recovered and repaid $856,139 to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is working on recovery of the remaining $31,073.

The federal child care funds came from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations and American Rescue Plan Act laws.

In a letter in response to the audit, State Superintendent Cade Brumley said his agency agreed with the findings and “is committed to implementing the necessary procedures to improve these processes.” He also said in the letter that corrective actions would be in place by June 30.

The auditor’s office found several grant programs were not in compliance with Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act reporting requirements, especially when it came to sub grant recipients.

For the Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants, auditors found no sub award information for 594 sub awards of $30,000 or more totaling $167 million.

Auditors also found in 79 sub awards worth $130 million from the Education Stabilization Fund and Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief programs funded by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act that had incorrect obligation dates and no timely reports for 26 grantees worth $60 million.

The agency, according to auditors, also reported the same data for 32 sub awards totaling $13.2 million twice.

The agency, in a response letter to the auditor’s office, blamed the Federal Subaward Reporting System’s computer system for the issues with recording sub awardees for grants.

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