Los Angeles County Office of AIDS Programs and Policy Cannot Account for How $80M Was Spent, Auditor’s Report Says
The Los Angeles County Office of AIDS Programs and Policy cannot account for how more than $80 million in state and federal HIV/AIDS funding was spent last year, according to a report by the Auditor Controller's Office, the Pasadena Star News reports. The audit, which was requested by the county Board of Supervisors, said that the agency can account for how much money was allotted for each of the county's eight districts but cannot say how the money was actually spent. Officials with the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, the parent agency of the AIDS office, allotted more money than was needed to half of the districts, while three districts did not receive enough money, the report said. Only one district -- Antelope Valley -- received its determined share of 1.4% of the funds.
'Red Flags' and Change
The audit has raised "red flags" about the Office of AIDS Programs and Policy and has "caught the attention" of some public officials and AIDS advocates. "If ever there was any doubt about the need for major structural reform in the accounting of (the Office of AIDS), this whole process should erase that ... especially when you can't account for how you've spent taxpayer money," Jason Oliver, government affairs coordinator for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, said. County Supervisor Don Knabe, who led the call for the audit, today is expected to request an investigation of possible "conflicts of interest" within the AIDS office and the HIV Commission, the office's legislative body. He is also expected to ask for a 90-day public review of the audit so that county residents can voice their concerns about the agency. Despite the calls for greater investigation, John Schunhoff, chief operating officer of the county Department of Health Services public health division, said that the lack of accounting for how the money was actually spent is not a "major issue." Schunhoff said, "It's important on a periodic basis they look at the extent to which funds are not only allocated, but which are spent within a (service provider area)." However, it is difficult to keep track of each area's spending because some contractors provide services in overlapping areas or move, he said. The Star News did not provide commentary regarding the audit from the Office of AIDS Programs and Policy (Rester, Pasadena Star News, 8/19).