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 user 2007-08-29 at 12:40:00 pm Views: 87
  • #18657

    wasteful spending at L.A.’s Children and Family Services
    ANGELES—The county agency overseeing children’s services has misspent
    millions of dollars on unnecessary and overpriced office supplies and
    can’t account for all its equipment, according to an audit.Auditors
    noted more than a dozen deficiencies in procurement operations at the
    Department of Children and Family Services, and said slack management
    oversight may have resulted in misappropriations of funds and
    property.The Office of Investigations is studying whether any
    fraudulent activities took place and officials said they expect an
    undisclosed number of employees to be fired or disciplined, the Los
    Angeles Daily News reported Wednesday.”It’s highly unusual for a
    department to have violated this many policies,” said
    Auditor-Controller Tyler McCauley.The audit said the procurement
    department violated county policies in purchasing and maintaining
    inventory of everything from printer cartridges and gift cards to
    computer flash cards and file cabinets.

    The department, for
    example, purchased $1.4 million worth of gift cards in July 2005, but
    officials could not provide auditors with documents to support $115,000
    of $700,000 in gift-card purchases.”Consequently, we could not verify
    that all gift cards were used for appropriate purposes,” auditors wrote.
    audit also said more than 70 percent of toner cartridges purchased in
    June 2006 were expected to expire and may not be usable because too
    many were ordered at a time.Auditors also noted the agency paid 15
    percent more per cartridge on a follow-up order later in the month that
    also wasn’t needed
    Agency Chief Deputy Director Susan Kerr,
    who started last October, requested the audit after receiving reports
    about problems in the Procurement and Forms Management Section, which
    is responsible for spending $177 million on services and supplies.”We
    have been reacting very quickly,” Kerr said.Tony Bell, spokesman for
    Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, said that while the audit is
    disconcerting, Antonovich believes that DCFS Director Trish Ploehn has
    shown leadership in the matter.”We understand there will be a number of
    firings and disciplinary actions taken,” Bell said.

    County making the right move ?
    Angeles County’s controls over spending in its various departments
    could be likened to a great steel sieve – things that go in usually end
    up slipping right out.Case in point is
    the revelation earlier this month that the Department of Children and
    Family Services’ procurement system was so out of control that it had
    managed to spend $800,000 on printer toner cartridges in one month
    there was the mismanagement by Sheriff Lee Baca of the relocation of a
    special forces bureau in which spending policies were not followed.And
    that’s just the past two weeks.The County Board of Supervisors last
    week finally called for an end to the sieve-like action and ordered a
    review of county spending. It’s not a moment too soon, as county
    officials have been worried for years about the toll of fraud and
    simple waste as part of the county procurement system.