Audit important of Oklahoma’s use of education discount funds

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A federal audit report sharply criticizes Oklahoma officers for a shortage of transparency, oversight and accountability within the utilization of coronavirus discount funds that had been meant for education.

The state, which obtained virtually $40 million in pandemic assist for the Governor’s Emergency Coaching Discount, or GEER, Fund, has already returned better than $919,000 that was unspent from this method.

The US Division of Coaching’s Office of Inspector Regular report dated Monday recommends the state return virtually $653,000 further that was spent on non-education related objects paying homage to televisions and Xbox gaming strategies by households that obtained grants. The doc moreover requires the state to audit one different $5.4 million for attainable refund of misspent funds, and develop larger administration and interior controls of the spending.

“Oklahoma could not help its acknowledged processes for awarding funds to eligible entities that had been each most significantly impacted by the coronavirus, as determined by the State, or deemed essential for ending up emergency educational corporations, providing childcare and early childhood education, providing social and emotional help, or defending education-related jobs,” based mostly on the report.

“Consequently, Oklahoma lacks assurance that its awards to a couple entities beneath these initiatives … aligned with the intention of the GEER grant fund,” the report acknowledged.

A spokesperson for Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, Kate Vesper talked about the report is being reviewed.

“The governor is devoted to transparency and accountability in state authorities,” Vesper talked about. “The state has been proactive in monitoring and ensuring acceptable use of Oklahoma taxpayer {{dollars}}, and an interior audit was initiated a lot of months previously, that is ongoing for the Oklahoma GEER funds.”

The state blamed ClassWallet, the contractor employed to handle the packages, nevertheless that was rejected by the OIG.

“(The state) did not profit from an on the market ClassWallet interior administration chance, nor did it perform a evaluation of the initiative’s expenditures,” based mostly on the report. “As a result of the recipient of the GEER grant funds, Oklahoma was accountable for ensuring that its grant funds had been used appropriately.”

The interior administration chance may need been used to limit expenditures to educational-related solely objects, the report talked about.

The OIG reported that $8 million in GEER funds allotted to the Oklahoma State Division of Coaching “aligned with the intention of the CARES Act to help” educational packages.

The OIG talked about Oklahoma has taken some corrective steps, nevertheless has not addressed ideas that it presents documentation or an in depth written rationalization of the strategy used to award the grants.

Ken Miller, The Associated Press