Officials: Critical fed audit to be resolved
The U.S. Justice Department released a highly critical audit of the Nevada Victims of Crime program in late March, charging the program issued more than $4 million in grant awards it shouldn’t have.
But Ross Armstrong, interim head of the division that manages the program, said the state has been working with federal auditors and expects to completely resolve the issues without penalties to the state.
The Victims of Crime program compensates victims of criminal acts for medical and other costs as well as providing necessary services such as a safe place to stay for victims of domestic violence.
Much of that work is done through nonprofit organizations the VOC program contracts with or sub-grants funding to.
It does so with victim assistance grants from the federal government totaling $45.7 million.
Auditors charged the state made numerous errors in its sub-award process, submitted inaccurate performance and federal financial reports and incurred unallowable, unsupported costs.
The audit said VOC funding was used to enhance services for crime victims as intended. But they said the state didn’t track sub-awards by type of service to make sure the money went to providers of services for child abuse, domestic abuse and sexual assault victims among others.
Armstrong, however, said much of the problem stemmed from the fact the state was unable to document those expenses and grants.
“Since then, the grants unit has been able to track a lot of the source documentation,” he said. “We’re collecting all that and preparing to hand it over to them.”
He said it’s taking some time because most of those documents have to come from the nonprofits and other groups that received the funding and provided the services. But he said they’ll be able to show federal auditors the “unsupported expenses” are supported and a proper use of the money.
“It was an issue of collecting that source information,” he said. “It’s not that the funds were inappropriately spent but that we couldn’t find the documentation to show how the funds were spent.”
Armstrong said, however, the audit pointed out a number of areas where the state can improve management of the program to eliminate problems in the future including better monitoring of sub-grant awards.
“Audits are great because they give you very specific findings you can go and correct,” he said.
The result, Armstrong said, will be improvements in how they can best serve victims of crime who need the program’s help getting past, “the worst day of their life.”
As a former prosecutor, Armstrong said, “I take that piece seriously.”
He said he’s now meeting weekly with the grants management team and talking regularly with the federal auditors to resolve the remaining issues raised by the audit.