By Amye Anderson
UCBJ Managing Editor
COOKEVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Transportation has released its findings following conclusion an audit of UCHRA’s transportation program. That probe was launched in February.
The forensic accounting review covers 11 grant contracts totaling roughly $10.2 million issued to the Agency. Auditors primarily focused on determining the validity of transactions within 39 grant reimbursement invoices during the 2017 calendar year totaling more than $5.6 million.
“We are taking a look at every finding that was in the monitoring report and will do our very best to correct the issues,” Mark Farley, UCHRA’s interim executive director, told the UCBJ. “Luckily, nothing appears to be too difficult to work out in a short time.”
Farley replaces former agency director Luke Collins, who was terminated from his position in recent months following an independent investigation into the misconduct accusations against Collins were revealed to board members.
During their review, TDOT auditors flagged $130,249 in “questioned costs.” Of those questioned costs:
- $8,458 in payroll billed direct-time to transportation grants despite the approved cost allocation plan designating that title as 100-percent allocated. Four county receptionists charged their time directly to transportation grants even though UCHRA’s approved allocation plan for administrative costs indicate that the Agency must allocate 100 percent of salaries to all programs for staff with the title of receptionist.
- $10,820.63 was billed to transportation grants by the Agency’s nutrition director, despite not performing transportation-related duties. The Agency also did not provide auditors with official time records for the nutrition director.
- $40,960.94 in indirect salaries of eight employees.
- $31,953.39 was billed by the HR/Safety Sensitive Specialist and HR Assistant to direct time to transportation and the indirect cost pool. According to auditors, transportation grants were billed both direct and indirect time for employee titles designated as 100-percent allocated in the approve cost allocation plan.
- $13,639.55 in vehicle operating expenses for non-program vehicles.
- $4,795.86 in reimbursement claims for repairs to damaged program vehicles, which were provided by the Agency’s insurance provider.
- $14,178.27 in fuel costs for non-program vehicles.
- $5,059 in incorrectly calculated rent rates for leased facilities in DeKalb and White counties, including subleases to third parties.
- $382.84 in unallowable expenses resulting from conference attendance costs.
According to the findings, documentation submitted to support the charges was minimal if not lacking entirely. Auditors noted journal entries supporting payment of expenses were entries for vouchers instead of checks and did not include appropriate information necessary to determine if the costs were allowable under the grant. The payroll and benefits ledger posting also lacked the necessary information to identify the employees whose wages and benefits were claimed as program expenses.
No documentation was available to support that the farebox revenue deduction was provided with reimbursement requests.
Moving forward, TDOT along with the audit team advised the development of internal procedures to ensure the validity of reimbursement claims including periodic on-site audits of grantee supporting documents and updating and maintaining a list of program vehicles and related expenses among other recommendations.