By Michael Kleen ~ Published September 22, 2013 at the Rockford Register Star
Earlier this month, Rockford City Administrator James Ryan released a memo with his recommendations for how the City should respond to a U.S. Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s audit. The audit covered roughly $599,000 in federal stimulus funds Rockford received in 2009. In part, Ryan recommended returning nearly $300,000 in funds that were improperly spent.
Ryan’s memo outlines a clear failure (whether intentional or not) to follow stimulus fund guidelines on the part of Rockford Human Services Department staff. This failure may constitute, at the very least, a neglect of duties.
George Davis, Executive Director of the Rockford Human Services Department, first became aware that the Office of Inspector General was looking into Rockford’s use of federal stimulus funds in the fall of 2011. He told City Administrator James Ryan, “Given our general accounting practices and Department fiscal procedures I don’t expect that we will have any significant issues.”
Director Davis stated in a letter dated March 5, 2013 to Sheri Fulcher, Regional Inspector General for Audit Services for the DHHS, “…we followed the requirements for documentation as we understood them at the time.” He told the Rockford Register Star on July 26, 2013, “It’s not a case where we had explicit guidelines and instructions and didn’t follow them. We had no unique guidelines.”