Audit critical of Oklahoma’s use of education relief funds

Joan S. Reed

OKLAHOMA Town — A federal audit report sharply criticizes Oklahoma officers for a deficiency of transparency, oversight and accountability in the use of coronavirus aid cash that ended up meant for schooling.

The point out, which acquired practically $40 million in pandemic help for the Governor’s Emergency Schooling Relief, or GEER, Fund, has currently returned much more than $919,000 that was unspent from the system.

The U.S. Office of Education’s Office of Inspector Standard report dated Monday endorses the condition return nearly $653,000 additional that was put in on non-training linked things this sort of as televisions and Xbox gaming systems by families that acquired grants. The document also calls for the point out to audit yet another $5.4 million for doable refund of misspent resources, and build much better management and inside controls of the investing.

“Oklahoma could not assistance its said procedures for awarding funds to eligible entities that ended up possibly most significantly impacted by the coronavirus, as decided by the State, or deemed important for carrying out emergency instructional solutions, providing childcare and early childhood instruction, delivering social and emotional assistance, or guarding schooling-associated positions,” in accordance to the report.

“As a consequence, Oklahoma lacks assurance that its awards to a few entities less than these initiatives … aligned with the purpose of the GEER grant fund,” the report stated.

A spokesperson for Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, Kate Vesper stated the report is staying reviewed.

“The governor is fully commited to transparency and accountability in point out authorities,” Vesper stated. “The state has been proactive in monitoring and ensuring proper use of Oklahoma taxpayer dollars, and an inside audit was initiated many months back, that is ongoing for the Oklahoma GEER resources.”

The condition blamed ClassWallet, the contractor employed to administer the programs, but that was rejected by the OIG.

“(The state) did not choose advantage of an offered ClassWallet inside management solution, nor did it complete a overview of the initiative’s expenditures,” according to the report. “As the receiver of the GEER grant resources, Oklahoma was accountable for guaranteeing that its grant cash were applied appropriately.”

The inner handle choice could have been employed to restrict expenditures to academic-linked only merchandise, the report stated.

The OIG claimed that $8 million in GEER funds allotted to the Oklahoma Condition Department of Education and learning “aligned with the function of the CARES Act to support” academic courses.

The OIG claimed Oklahoma has taken some corrective methods, but has not resolved suggestions that it give documentation or a specific published explanation of the procedure utilized to award the grants.

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