Family violence program audit finds some expenditure issues

A recent audit of a Harris-based family violence program identified several areas of concern involving records of expenditures and the approved salaries of some employees. The audit was conducted on The Bridge Over Troubled Waters, Inc. (The Bridge) to determine if controls were in place to protect more than $2.5 million in grant funding.

Auditors found that The Bridge had mostly complied with requirements related to support for salary expenses and usually followed its internal salary processes and procedures, including:
•       All pay rate forms were approved by human resources and management.
•       Supervisor signatures were on all but two employee timesheets.
•       The payroll register included the approved rates for all but one employee.
•       Timesheet grant distribution sheets were signed and dated by a supervisor on all but three forms, and all but one listed the correct hours.

There were issues related to some expenditures at the facility, including a lack of documentation and the program paying for items and services that were not allowed. To track Pandemic Emergency Assistance Fund expenditures, The Bridge was required to maintain a client assistance log; however, some entries included incomplete information, including the client's identity or what the funding had purchased. Additionally, the log showed total expenditures exceeded the pandemic fund's total award by $42,214. Texas Health and Human Services (HHS) did not reimburse the additional expenditures.

The report also found issues with staff positions and salaries that did not match the HHS-approved budget, including four positions not listed in the salary table. An additional three positions were paid more than what had been approved, and one was paid less and left unlisted in a residential/nonresidential contract.

Auditors provided the facility with recommendations to resolve the concerns. Specifically: 
•       Complete the client assistance log as contractually required.
•       Design future client assistance request forms to record all elements of contract and internal policy requirements.
•       Design and implement a review process to verify advocates document all elements of contract and internal requirements.
•       Develop and implement a process to maintain support for expenditures and service delivery.
•       Work with HHSC to reconcile and support reimbursements related to the Pandemic Emergency Assistance Fund.
•       Improve adherence with controls regarding salary expense.
•       Submit a budget revision if positions and allocation percentages differ from the approved budget.
•       Work with HHSC to correct reporting and repay grant funds as applicable.