Federal audit reveals problems with grants made to Osage OVW

Staff Writer
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

Tribal officials are working to resolve problems that were revealed in a recent federal audit of three grants made for the Osage Nation’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW).

More than $2.5 million in grant funding was awarded over a seven-year period between 2007 and 2011 to fund projects which ran through September 2014. A subsequent audit by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General found a number of deficiencies.

The Tribal Governments Program grants were awarded “to develop and strengthen effective responses to violence against women, designed to fulfill the three goals of Title IX of the Violence Against Women Act of 2005: (1) to decrease the incidence of violent crime against Indian women; (2) to strengthen the capacity of Indian tribes to exercise their sovereign authority to respond to violent crimes committed against Indian women; and (3) to ensure that perpetrators of violent crimes committed against Indian women are held accountable for their criminal behavior.”

The purpose of the audit was to determine whether costs claimed under the grants were allowable, supported, and in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, guidelines, and terms and conditions of the award. The objective of the audit was to assess performance in the key areas of grant management that are applicable and appropriate for the grants under review. These areas included: (1) internal control environment; (2) drawdowns; (3) grant expenditures, including personnel and fringe costs; (4) budget management and control; (5) financial and progress reports; (6) program performance and accomplishments; (7) post grant end-date activities; (8) property management; and (9) grant requirements. It was determined that program income, matching costs, and monitoring of subgrantees and contractors were not applicable to these awards.

The report indicated that weak internal controls resulted in unallowable costs charged to the grants. In addition, the report identified unsupported payroll expenditures charged to the grants. Further, auditors could not verify 60 percent of progress report accomplishments tested, including the facts noted in the Recovery Act reports. Finally, they found that 53 percent of the property items we tested were not included in Osage’s inventory system and they were unable to physically verify 39 percent of property items. Overall, there was identified $522,552 in net questioned costs.

Based on audit results, three recommendations were made to address dollar-related findings and three recommendations were geared to improve the management of DOJ grants.

Osage officials filed a December response in which they agreed with the audit findings and vowed to “coordinate” remedies for $60,525 in unsupported salaries and fringe benefits and $43,371 in unallowable direct costs on top of $56,155 in improper costs which were identified internally and voluntarily repaid based on an internal audit of the program. Also noted in the audit was $373,175 in unsupported programmatic costs.