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December 5, 2012

Comptroller Maragos: Audit Finds Over $200,000 in Overbilling by Social Service Provider

Credit Card Use Uncontrolled

Mineola, NY- Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos released his audit of Family and Children’s Association (FCA), one of the County’s largest  not-for-profit agencies, which provides a broad range of programs and services to families with difficulties. The agency also places contract staff in various County departments. The audit found over $200,000 of questionable charges to the County for hours not worked, unsubstantiated credit card charges by employees, and numerous internal control issues.

“The numerous apparent FCA operating weaknesses, alleged overbilling to the County and failure to acknowledge any shortcomings are disturbing,” Comptroller Maragos said. “The very defensive reaction by FCA to the audit findings may imply a culture of unaccountability to tax payers. We will be forwarding a copy of our findings to the District Attorney and the County Attorney for possible recoupment of funds. Additionally, the County departments will be advised to review the effectiveness of their FCA programs in helping the needy in our communities, with a recommendation to consider diversification to other worthwhile agencies.”

Family and Children’s Association is a New York State charitable not-for-profit organization established in 1998 and is one of the largest social services agencies contracting with Nassau County.  The County made payments to FCA of over $10 million in 2010 for various services.

For the purpose of this audit, the Comptroller’s Office reviewed the following five substantial contracts out of over 50 with FCA during the 2009 and 2010 audit period:  

 

  • Persons in Need of Supervision Diversion Program. This is a program to serve the families of children up to the age of 18 that display ungovernable behavior and perform Preventive Services that  provide case-planning services aimed at preventing foster care or assisting in the early discharge from foster care;
  • Substance Abuse/Treatment with the Department of Behavioral Health. This is a chemical dependency outpatient program that provides outpatient services to a mainly adolescent population and families who are experiencing difficulties in life due to their own or someone else’s abuse;
  • Youth and Community Development Program. This program helps the Youth Board meet its mission to strengthen families, create healthy alternatives for young people, develop communities, and support programs;
  • Case Management with the Department of Senior Citizens provides case management, housekeeping and ancillary services to the frail and elderly; and
  • Preventive Services with DSS provides case-planning services aimed at preventing foster care or assisting in the early discharge from foster care. The contract amounts for this contract were $1,156,317 in both 2009 and 2010. The County provided 22% of the funding with 43% from federal sources and 35% from state sources.

Numerous administrative weakness and improper expenditures were found with all the programs reviewed. The frequent use of credit cards lacked adequate oversight for expenditures that would be charged back to the County. Some purchases included gift cards, Ipods, food and bowling for clients that were not always identified and were without sufficient justification.  Time was charged that was not worked by the employees of FCA. Additionally, FCA’s own time and leave policy was violated and employee mileage claims were not being properly documented.

PDF File Limited Review of Family and Children's Association