East Baton Rouge Parish Council on Aging officials are revamping the agency’s finance department after a state audit found numerous problems with the way transactions were being recorded and tracked.
The Governor’s Office of Elderly Affairs, in an audit report released Wednesday, also listed incomplete personnel files among the 32 violations it identified during an audit of Council on Aging records.
Violations in the 10-page report included unsigned and unapproved travel forms, incorrect time sheets, bank accounts improperly reconciled and white-out used on official documents, the report says. The audit included a review of financial records for the four-month period ending Nov. 1, the report says.
Tasha Clark-Amar, Council on Aging executive director, said many of the violations may have occurred as a result of a “rocky transition” from the previous director. Clark-Amar has been the director since July 2011.
“When I came on board, there were four people in the finance department,” Clark-Amar said. “Within about a month or month-and-a-half, they all left.”
Clark-Amar said there was no Governor’s Office of Elderly Affairs financial policy manual in place when she took over, and she had no idea that many of the violations cited in the report were violations.
“We were just doing it the way they had always done it,” she said.
The report cited the council for incomplete I-9 forms. An I-9 form shows that an employer verified a person’s right to work in the United States. According the Clark-Amar, the forms were complete, but had been kept in binders instead of in the employees’ file, where Governor’s Office of Elderly Affairs auditors said they should be.
Other violations, such has not having two signatures on some checks and not stamping “paid” on invoices, were being corrected, she said.
In a response to the audit, Council on Aging Board Chairman Johnny G. Anderson concurred with the findings of the audit.
“The EBRCOA has totally revamped and restructured the Finance Department,” he wrote. A new bookkeeper, a new account specialist, two “external financial and budgetary consultants” and an external accountant have been hired to provide oversight, he wrote.
Karen Ryder, deputy assistant director for the Governor’s Office of Elderly Affairs, said the office was working with the Council on Aging to correctproblems.
“We will follow up with them continuously,” Ryder said.
A second audit likely will be conducted during fiscal year 2014, which runs from July 1 to June 30, 2014, she said.
Ryder praised the organization’s current board.
“Before, the board was a little weak,” she said. “They seem to have a really strong board at this time.”
Ryder said the funds that flow through the Governor’s Office of Elderly Affairs to the Council on Aging could have been put on hold.
“They are working very hard to get this straightened out at this time,” she said.
But, Ryder said, there will be no interruption in service to senior citizens.
“The services will be delivered whether it’s them or someone else,” she said. “The services will not stop.”
Governor’s Office of Elderly Affairs audits are supposed to happen every three years according to policy, Ryder said. The Council on Aging had last been audited in 2005, she said, attributing the delay to a “lack of personnel” and changes at the office.
The Council on Aging receives approximately $1.7 million of its $3.2 million annual budget from the Governor’s Office of Elderly Affairs, Clark-Amar said. She said the Council on Aging was providing 700 hot meals and 1,200 total meals per day to seniors around the parish.