NC auditor again finds issues with Dept. of Public Safety’s handling of federal funds

Investigators

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – For the second time in a row, the North Carolina state auditor has found problems with the way the Department Of Public Safety monitors federal funds it is supposed to administer.

If the results of the audit sound familiar, it is because the auditor found the same problems when she looked at DPS in 2019.

The federal government gives the state money to help victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault and other crimes find jobs and housing.

But, this latest audit found the Department of Public Safety did not adequately monitor $68.9 million in federal funds to state agencies that were supposed to be used to assist those crime victims.

“We found bills were paid, reimbursements were made and supporting documentation wasn’t there,” said auditor Beth Wood. “We found when local governments brought in supporting documentation, we found the amounts paid and the amounts requested did not match.”

This is not the first time that the auditor was critical of DPS. Last year, it found similar problems with the way the agency supervised the way those funds were spent.

The report said about 17 percent of the documentation didn’t get properly accounted for.

“That figure was 19 percent last year, so it’s improved a little bit,” said Wood.

The audit report said the Department of Public Safety may now be required to pay back $2,098 in federal funds.

The auditor claims that inadequate monitoring could reduce funding to victims of sexual assault, domestic abuse and other crimes.

“It could affect what we get this year because they’ll take back what we misspent this year,” she said.

In its written response to the audit, which is included in the report, DPS says “it accepts the findings that it didn’t adequately monitor the federal funds.”

“If you’re not making sure that money is being used properly at the local level – think of all the victims of crime not being helped that need to be helped,” said Wood.

In acknowledging the report’s findings, DPS blames it on staffers who weren’t properly trained and says, “it has undertaken more staff training and professional development.”

CBS 17 offered DPS a chance to explain why the problems continued, but spokeswoman Pamela Walker declined saying, “I think the department’s response in the report speaks for itself.”

Because she found problems with the disbursement of those funds for the second year in a row, the federal government requires Wood audit that program again this fiscal year.

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