An audit of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections has found that over $1.6 million in coronavirus aid was used to reimburse expenditures that did not meet federal qualifications.
According to the legislative auditors office, $1,648,025 in costs are under question because they did not comply with Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) requirements or were not adequately supported with documentation.
The expenditures were made at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, Elayn Hunt Correctional Center, and Adult Probation and Parole facilities.
The report states that 99 percent of total payments reviewed during the audit did not have documentation supporting that the expenditure was incurred during the public health emergency related to COVID-19.
Those included payments for Hepatitis C medication, upkeep for weed eaters, lawn mowers and tractors, various auto repairs, horse feed, chairs re-upholstered, and shredders.
U.S. Department of Treasury guidance dated April 22, 2020, included the following as an example of an allowable use of CRF: “COVID-19 related expenses of maintaining state prisons and county jails, including as it relates to sanitation and improvement of social distancing measures, to enable compliance with COVID-19 public health precautions."
About six percent of the payments reviewed were related to costs incurred prior to relief fund period which began March 1, 2020.
Auditors say there was no evidence that reimbursement requests by the department were reviewed or approved by someone other than the employee preparing and submitting the request to the Division of Administration.
An Office of the Commissioner, Division of Administration memorandum to state agencies, dated March 10, 2020, required agencies to track all expenditures relating to COVID-19 and to clearly mark invoices.
An analysis of revenue trends by auditors found that over the past five fiscal years, revenue increased by $149 million, or 544 percent, in 2020 mainly due to CRF funds.
A total of $85 million was submitted by the department for reimbursement during the period ending June 30, 2020, according to the audit.
To read the full audit, click here.
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