Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Calls for Investigation of County Office of AIDS Programs and Policy
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday called for an investigation into the operations of the county Office of AIDS Programs and Policy, the Long Beach Press-Telegram reports. The supervisors asked that a report be submitted to the board within 30 days investigating allegations of possible conflicts of interest, misspent public funds and "an unfair distribution" of federal HIV/AIDS funding throughout the county (Rester, Long Beach Press-Telegram, 8/21). The call for the investigation comes shortly after a report by the Auditor-Controller's Office found that the AIDS office could not account for how more than $80 million in state and federal HIV/AIDS funding was spent last year. The audit, which was requested by the county 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 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/20). In addition to requesting the report, county supervisors are opening a 90-day public comment period to gather comments and recommendations about how the process of HIV/AIDS funding can be improved.
AIDS Advocates Pleased
Some AIDS organizations "applauded" the announcement of the investigation, according to the Press-Telegram. Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, said that it is "unbelievable" that the agency had no system in place to track its spending by area. Stephen Simon, associate director of government affairs for AIDS Project Los Angeles, said that his organization supports the investigation, but he added that there should not be "repeated requests for labor-intensive audits" of the agency or the health department. "I don't want this to turn into a witch hunt. I can't afford to have the [office] be even less able to do their work," Simon said. According to the Press-Telegram, Office of AIDS Programs and Policy officials did not return the paper's phone calls for comment on the investigation (Long Beach Press-Telegram, 8/21).