Big Brothers Big Sisters Dinged for Inadequate Oversight of Federal Money

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June 24, 2013; Washington Times

The Washington Times reported on Wednesday that a Department of Justice audit found that the oversight of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America’s millions of dollars in grants from the DOJ was “inadequate.”

In question are three grants from the office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, which total $23.2 million. The audit, performed by the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General, showed that the nonprofit was in material non-compliance with the majority of the grants’ requirements. The central organization of Big Brothers Big Sisters disseminated money to affiliates from the grant funds, but Inspector General Michael Horowitz said, “We also determined that BBBSA did not adequately oversee the funds provided to local affiliate agencies by failing to require the local chapters to provide documentary support for the grant funds received and expended…And we found that BBBSA charged unallowable expenditures to the grants, failed to adequately monitor consultants, and did not properly report program income generated through the programs.”

NPQ was curious about how this might have happened in an organization that must be familiar with managing federal grants, but then we saw this in the audit report: “Recently, BBBSA has gone through some changes to its management team. In June 2012, a new Chief Executive Officer was appointed by the BBBSA Board of Directors (Board). Shortly after the appointment, the BBBSA headquarters staffing level was reduced by 25 percent from 111 to 83. A new executive leadership team, including a Chief Operating Officer and Senior Director of Finance, were also appointed at the end of 2012.” That is a lot of administrative change in a short time frame.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of America claimed in a statement that any missteps were procedural. “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 statement 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 underway.”—Ruth McCambridge

  • Pat Krueger

    I have never worked for the Boys and Girls Club, however I have been employed in the nonprofit sector and have experienced significant staff reductions in recent years. These reductions do have an adverse effect on the ability of finance and administrative staff to keep track of the myriad of regulations tied to the grant funds they receive. I’m not excusing the inability to appropriately provide the information to the grantor, however I have lived in the experience in terms of being extremely short staffed. Expecially since the practice has been to minimize the administrative cost of all these programs that mean when budgets get cut administrators get cut, which makes it much harder to ensure compliance. I do not I think that the funds were stolen or misappropriated, the nonprofit just had to deal with realities which is when you have significantly less funding from one year to the next you try to maintain services as much as possible, and this means you go with fewer financial, audit and compliance stagf even if you need them.