A program championed by President Barack Obama for helping at-risk youth has had its federal funding frozen by the Justice Department after an investigation found it can't account for any of the $19.5 million it has been awarded between 2009 and 2011.
The Justice Department Inspector General report
says Big Brothers Big Sisters co-mingled funds for specific purposes with general funds, did not keep adequate records, did not properly oversee the affiliates it gave money to, improperly charged unallowable expenditures, did not adequately monitor consultants, and generated income it did not report.
One consultant was paid $100 an hour, double the rate that is approved, Fox News reported
Big Brothers Big Sisters has received a total of $480 million taxpayer funds since 1994. The organization is so dependent on federal funding, CBS News reports
, that it has argued during budget-cut talks that cutting its budget by 45 percent "would have a detrimental impact on the numbers of children, volunteers and families we serve."
Big Brothers Big Sisters reportedly provides mentoring programs for 200,000 at-risk youths between 6 and 18 years old.
"We determined that all BBBSA expenditures were unsupported due to commingling funds and that BBBSA was in material non-compliance with the essential grant requirements in the areas we tested," the IG report said.
As a result, the report recommended freezing $3.7 million that has not yet been paid, and the Justice Department did just that.
Big Brothers Big Sisters noted that the report said there was no "intentional misuse or misdirection" of funds, but admitted to poor bookkeeping. New personnel have been hired to correct that issue, the organization said.
"While our work in serving at-risk children was never compromised, we are disappointed that we fell short in meeting the procedural guidelines set by DOJ," the charity said. "The success of the programs in no way absolves us of our own responsibility to be fully compliant. To that end, new financial personnel are in place, grant management systems and internal controls are being enhanced, and network-wide training is under way."
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