Failure to File Reports Endangers Human Services’ Federal Funding

Monday, July 22, 2013, Vol. 128, No. 141

NASHVILLE (AP) – The Tennessee Department of Human Services has terminated its former budget coordinator after an audit found he failed to file reports to the federal government.

According to The Tennessean, the audit stated Adeniyi Bakare had problems filing documents online for millions of dollars' worth of federally funded programs. Auditors said Bakare didn't contact federal agencies to see why the errors occurred.

The newspaper said Bakare, whose employment ended July 5, couldn't be contacted for comment. Officials said the failure to file reports was a major factor in his dismissal.

"We take the audit very seriously because it speaks to how we operate," said Basil Dosunmu, DHS deputy commissioner of finance and administration. "We know we have a role in fiscal stewardship."

Grants have not been revoked, but auditors noted that failing to account for them could result in forfeiting funds.

"Not reporting information in accordance with (federal) requirements may be considered grounds for the suspension or termination of grants," auditors wrote.

The money is used for feeding children, providing daycare and paying energy bills.

If federal funding were to disappear, the loss would be deeply felt by a variety of programs benefiting low-income people across the state.

"That is the only funding stream that I'm aware of to operate on the magnitude that we're doing," said Donny King, executive director of TNKids Nutrition, a nonprofit that provides about 15,000 free meals across Robertson County during the summer.

Each day, King and volunteers feed breakfast and lunch to about 40 children at the Blair Street Community Center in a Springfield public housing complex.

"Those kids are hungry," said King.

DHS has made changes and shared them with auditors, but the department said it could take months to root out some of the problems. Two other fiscal directors who answered to the former budget coordinator have left DHS. Department spokesman Christopher Garrett said those departures were not directly related to the audit, but added that "some of the individuals who retired did so after learning about the audit findings and the plan to remedy those findings."

Information from: The Tennessean, www.tennessean.com

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