Federal Audit Helps Agency Identify and Fix Problems
LAWRENCE– After an intensive year of reform and audits, the Greater Lawrence Community Action Council has emerged as a stronger organization more capable than ever of delivering critical social services to the 29,000 people assisted annually. With the completion of the audit by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Inspector General, in which no malfeasance or missing funds were reported, GLCAC will now ask state officials to lift the designation of “troubled agency.”
“With the release of these audit findings, the GLCAC is now able to close the book on this sad chapter and look forward to a brighter future of continuing to help families of Greater Lawrence achieve self-sufficiency,” said Christian Dame, the Interim Executive Director, appointed by the GLCAC board last April. “With the assistance and professionalism of our federal and state partners, we have been able to fully implement the reforms necessary to position GLCAC as a model agency.”
The federal audit is the 38th of 40 corrective action steps completed by GLCAC since April. The remaining two action steps – new time documentation and wage scale systems – will be completed within several weeks. The 40 action steps, identified by the state Department of Housing and Community Development, are a condition for lifting the “troubled agency” designation. The GLCAC, a private, non-profit organization funded in large part by state and federal grants, must return to good standing in order to successfully apply for grants.
The GLCAC agreed with the findings of the OIG and has already taken steps to correct the administrative misunderstandings related to federal grant spending. In addition, GLCAC has agreed to repay $160,000 to the federal government that resulted from the misapplication of grant funds and from the lack of time documentation to support the salary of the former executive director. The total repayment to the federal government represents one-tenth of a percent (0.10%) of the agency's spending during the period audited and will not impact the delivery of services to GLCAC clients.
“The Board of Directors and management of the GLCAC all learned a great deal this past year as we worked tirelessly to fix the past mistakes and ensure they never happen again. We never wavered in our commitment to the thousands of families who depend on our agency for assistance, and today I believe we are better able to deliver services that lift them up and place them on the path to self sufficiency,” said Dr. Thomas Perrault, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the GLCAC.
Looking to the future, the GLCAC Board has hired an executive search consultant to assist in the selection of a new, permanent executive director. In addition, the board has endorsed the A.C.E. Initiative, which reinforces the management priorities of focusing on agency operations, increasing the emphasis on client needs and services, and giving employees the opportunity to achieve career goals and receive professional development.
Since last April, the management and board of the GLCAC have adopted a string of important reforms to improve the managerial and fiscal operations. They include:
- Adoption of state-of-the-art By Laws and revised Articles of Incorporation.
- Recruitment of 12 new members to the Board of Directors from a cross section of our communities and implementation of term limits for all board members.
- Adoption of numerous DHCD-approved good governance policies covering areas such as whistleblower, nepotism, conflict of interest, annual executive director performance appraisals, independent contractor versus employee hiring, etc.
- Implementation of a new time documentation system that fully meets federal standards.
- Completed a comprehensive self-assessment and peer review of our organizational policies and procedures under the tutelage of the Northeast Institute for Quality Community Action, a best practices trade group sponsored by DHCD.