Audit critical of Oklahoma’s use of education relief funds
OKLAHOMA Metropolis — A federal audit report sharply criticizes Oklahoma officers for a absence of transparency, oversight and accountability in the use of coronavirus aid cash that ended up intended for education.
The state, which obtained almost $40 million in pandemic assistance for the Governor’s Crisis Instruction Aid, or GEER, Fund, has previously returned extra than $919,000 that was unspent from the program.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector Typical report dated Monday suggests the point out return approximately $653,000 much more that was invested on non-education related things this kind of as televisions and Xbox gaming programs by people that been given grants. The doc also calls for the condition to audit yet another $5.4 million for probable refund of misspent funds, and acquire greater management and interior controls of the paying out.
“Oklahoma could not assist its mentioned processes for awarding resources to qualified entities that ended up possibly most substantially impacted by the coronavirus, as decided by the State, or considered critical for carrying out unexpected emergency educational solutions, providing childcare and early childhood instruction, offering social and psychological support, or shielding instruction-associated employment,” according to the report.
“As a outcome, Oklahoma lacks assurance that its awards to 3 entities beneath these initiatives … aligned with the objective of the GEER grant fund,” the report stated.
A spokesperson for Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, Kate Vesper explained the report is currently being reviewed.
“The governor is committed to transparency and accountability in point out governing administration,” Vesper said. “The state has been proactive in monitoring and making certain ideal use of Oklahoma taxpayer dollars, and an inside audit was initiated various months in the past, that is ongoing for the Oklahoma GEER cash.”
The state blamed ClassWallet, the contractor employed to administer the courses, but that was turned down by the OIG.
“(The condition) did not consider gain of an readily available ClassWallet inner handle choice, nor did it accomplish a assessment of the initiative’s expenses,” in accordance to the report. “As the receiver of the GEER grant resources, Oklahoma was responsible for ensuring that its grant money have been employed effectively.”
The internal handle selection could have been utilized to limit expenditures to academic-relevant only goods, the report mentioned.
The OIG described that $8 million in GEER resources allotted to the Oklahoma Point out Office of Education and learning “aligned with the purpose of the CARES Act to support” instructional applications.
The OIG mentioned Oklahoma has taken some corrective steps, but has not addressed suggestions that it give documentation or a thorough penned clarification of the process employed to award the grants.