Audit reveals state agencies mismanaged grants, ad dollars



An article yesterday should have reported that $181,000 in federal grants returned by the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention because of inadequate record-keeping had been received by the state during the 1999-2002 budget years. A state audit that discussed the grants failed to include those dates.

A child welfare agency within the governor's office failed to check whether its advertising dollars were actually spent on TV and radio air time, and an anti-crime agency run by the governor failed to exercise proper control over grant funding, costing the state $270,000, a legislative audit released yesterday found.

The audit found that the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention had to return more than $181,000 in federal grants during the 2003-2004 budget year because of inadequate auditing. Because it did not get federal reimbursements quickly enough, the state lost $89,000 in investment income, the audit found.

The crime control office became an issue in the last gubernatorial election when Republicans accused the Democratic nominee, then-Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, of mismanaging the agency's grants.

The other agency, the Office of Children, Youth and Families, did not independently verify that $518,000 in abstinence education ads ran on television and radio, the audit said. OCYF, long criticized as inefficient, was eliminated this year by the General Assembly. Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. created the Governor's Office for Children to replace it.

Agency officials partially agreed with the findings and said they are working on solutions.

In its response, the Office for Children said staff members saw and heard the advertisements and reviewed invoices for some of the months when the ads aired.

The crime control office responded that it had asked for the federal audit that led to the return of $181,000 in grant money. The federal review was conducted, it said, to determine the effectiveness of its controls. Since then, the agency said, it has enacted new safeguards on the spending of grant funds.

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