The auditors questioned Washington state’s use of $1.17 billion in federal COVID aid

Washington federal COVID aid – 11 state agencies receiving federal COVID-19 aid money failed to properly follow grant rules or report spending, according to the Washington State Auditor’s office. 

State agencies were audited for money spent between July 2022 and June 2023. About $1.17 billion worth of compliance violations were found in the over 1,300-page report published on June 6.

“That’s the most we’ve ever written,” Sadie Armijo, State Audit and Special Investigations director, told Cascade PBS. The number of [findings] last year was 70, and apparently it is on the rise.

According to Armijo, the state spent $29 billion in federal aid during fiscal year 2023. Even though agency spending on federal grants is below the pandemic high of $37 billion, it is still higher than the average of $18 billion before the pandemic.

Audit Reveals $1.17 Billion in Compliance Violations Across Multiple Agencies

  • Audit Period: July 2022 – June 2023
  • Total Compliance Violations: $1.17 billion
  • Report Publication Date: June 6
  • State Spending on Federal Aid FY 2023: $29 billion
  • Pandemic High Spending: $37 billion
  • Pre-Pandemic Average Spending: $18 billion

Armijo said agencies spending at least $750,000 in federal aid are required to conduct an audit to ensure public funds are spent appropriately.

Among all the agencies, the Department of Children, Youth and Families received the most findings. In total, 16 marks were issued against DCYF for questionable spending totaling $473 million. DCYF failed to maintain documentation on how funds are spent on child care and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

On 12 occasions, the Department of Commerce was found to be out of compliance with its use of fiscal recovery funds and Emergency Rental Assistance program. Spending deadlines were not met by the Department, and unauthorized advanced payments were sent to subrecipients.

Auditors wrote, “We determined that [Commerce] did not request and review adequate supporting documentation before paying subrecipients, and it failed to monitor fiscally so that funds advanced to subrecipients were disbursed to eligible households and for allowable purposes.”

As part of the investigation, the Department of Social and Health Services failed to verify the eligibility of aid recipients in the Immigrant Relief Fund.

There were no findings across five federal programs, including the State Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Administrative Costs Grant and Veterans State Nursing Home Care. 

State agencies may be requested to provide additional documentation from federal officials, and, in some cases, the money may be repaid. Several changes have been made by state agencies since the audit, according to Armijo.

About John Parker

John is a seasoned finance professional with over five years of experience in the financial sector. Throughout his career, he has contributed to various esteemed financial publications, including USA Today and The Sun, among others. His expertise spans across financial analysis, investment strategies, and market trends, making his insights invaluable for anyone looking to deepen their understanding of finance. Through his work on multiple finance-focused websites, John aims to provide readers with reliable, informative, and actionable financial content.

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