I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

George Stone Pell Grant Audit: Timeline of the Incident

I don't want anybody's head on a stick;  this isn't "Game of Thrones."

But the common man on the street feels that in government bureaucracies, nobody ever gets held accountable when massive problems erupt.  Is that the truth, and are we going to reinforce that opinion this month?

One of the toughest issues for me to make a vote on this month will be the requested repayment of the huge blunder made at George Stone with respect to the management of the Pell Grant program there.

A final determination has been made by the Feds and we are being asked to approve a $506,000.00 wire transfer back to the government.

The reason for this sanction is that we have completely mishandled the management and disbursement of federal Pell Grant monies.

Here is what is most upsetting to me:

The issues with the district's  administration of this program have been known for at least four years.  Here is a timeline of the issues....

And the auditors are very familiar with George Stone operations, having performed 26 visits to George Stone over the last 10 years (see chart below).

In June of 2012, the school board's audit team came to the rescue--completing a review of the program and providing step by step guidance and a manual  to show staff how to manage this program in a manner that ensured compliance with all regulations.

13 months later, the audit period that we are being gigged about commenced, the 2013-2014 school year.  13 months after our auditors provided the guidance to keep this program in compliance.

So what went sideways?  What went wrong?

I understand that this program lost an employee with significant corporate knowledge on this Pell Grant process.

I understand that the employee who worked this program during the school year in question (2013-2014) was highly qualified, an accountant, and that this person was sent to a training course to ensure

 she managed this program appropriately.  This person was also given the "cookbook" the audit team provided a year earlier.  This individual had all the resources to do the job effectively.

But the subsequent audit of the work completed during this employee's tenure turned up all the issues that led to this huge, half-million dollar sanction.

This employee lateraled over to a different position within the district.

So what happened, how did it go so wrong, and who is accountable?

Obviously something went badly wrong and this huge sum of money is owed back to the Government.

But I want to know this issue is fixed, and I want to know who is held accountable and what the punishment will be.

I don't want the commonly held belief ----that in big governmental bureaucracies nobody is held accountable when things go badly wrong----to be reinforced here in the Escambia County School District.

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