December 8, 2022

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Audit critical of Oklahoma’s use of education relief funds


OKLAHOMA Town — A federal audit report sharply criticizes Oklahoma officials for a absence of transparency, oversight and accountability in the use of coronavirus relief money that were intended for schooling.

The point out, which obtained almost $40 million in pandemic guidance for the Governor’s Emergency Training Relief, or GEER, Fund, has already returned a lot more than $919,000 that was unspent from the plan.

The U.S. Office of Education’s Office of Inspector Common report dated Monday recommends the state return just about $653,000 a lot more that was spent on non-education relevant goods this kind of as televisions and Xbox gaming methods by families that received grants. The doc also phone calls for the state to audit yet another $5.4 million for probable refund of misspent resources, and build much better management and internal controls of the spending.

“Oklahoma could not support its said processes for awarding money to eligible entities that ended up possibly most considerably impacted by the coronavirus, as identified by the Condition, or deemed important for carrying out crisis instructional providers, giving childcare and early childhood instruction, furnishing social and emotional help, or safeguarding education and learning-connected careers,” according to the report.

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

A spokesperson for Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, Kate Vesper claimed the report is getting reviewed.

“The governor is fully commited to transparency and accountability in point out govt,” Vesper reported. “The point out has been proactive in monitoring and making certain ideal use of Oklahoma taxpayer pounds, and an internal audit was initiated many months back, that is ongoing for the Oklahoma GEER funds.”

The state blamed ClassWallet, the contractor hired to administer the applications, but that was turned down by the OIG.

“(The condition) did not just take gain of an offered ClassWallet inner command option, nor did it execute a critique of the initiative’s expenses,” in accordance to the report. “As the recipient of the GEER grant resources, Oklahoma was dependable for guaranteeing that its grant cash had been made use of effectively.”

The inner command possibility could have been utilized to limit expenditures to academic-relevant only objects, the report mentioned.

The OIG documented that $8 million in GEER resources allocated to the Oklahoma State Division of Instruction “aligned with the purpose of the CARES Act to support” instructional courses.

The OIG said Oklahoma has taken some corrective measures, but has not tackled recommendations that it deliver documentation or a comprehensive created clarification of the method made use of to award the grants.



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