During the period 2011-2013, the Corporation awarded $963,062 to the Massachusetts Campus Compact (MACC), a coalition of colleges and universities that encourage student involvement in organizations that assist low-income communities. VISTA provided 88.6 percent of the funds, with the remainder coming from AmeriCorps.
Our audit found:
- VISTA unknowingly renewed its grant to MACC one day after AmeriCorps terminated its grant for cause. The Corporation treats each grant in isolation and lacks systems or processes for sharing critical information about grantees between programs.
- MACC charged the VISTA grant for student labor that was unsupported and unvalidated by a responsible supervisor.
- Twelve MACC workers were paid $115,976 from the VISTA grant without ever undergoing required criminal history background checks.
- MACC failed to oversee the sites and activities to which its 28 VISTA members were assigned.
- MACC overdrew the AmeriCorps grant for more members than it enrolled.
Overall, more than 13 percent of MACC’s claimed costs were overcharges. It lacked effective internal controls to ensure that costs charged to grants were correct in amount and properly supported and verified. We recommend that the Corporation disallow and recover the questioned costs identified in our audit. Any further dealings with MACC should be conditioned on significant improvements in its financial management practices, record keeping and host site monitoring.
We also recommend that the Corporation develop systems and procedures for timely sharing of information across grants and programs and consider transitioning its monitoring and oversight from a grant-centered approach to a grantee-centered approach. There is no justification for unknowingly awarding a grant to a grantee terminated by a sister program because of its failure to remedy grant management deficiencies. Here, the lack of communication between the programs resulted in a missed opportunity for the Corporation to prevent further waste of Federal funds, as evidenced by the questioned costs identified in this audit report.
Finally, the Corporation should determine why the Massachusetts State Office, which conducted a site visit to MACC during the period covered by our audit, failed to uncover the problems identified by our auditors. It is particularly hard to understand how the complete absence of host site monitoring records escaped their notice.