Texas AIDS Service Agency Must Reimburse Federal Government for ‘Questionable Expenses,’ Dallas County Auditor Says
Auditors from Dallas County, Texas, on Wednesday asked Dallas-based HIV/AIDS service agency Renaissance III to reimburse the federal government for $112,867 in "questionable expenses," including staff bonuses, the Dallas Morning News reports. According to auditors, Renaissance did not meet financial guidelines outlined by the Ryan White CARE Act. "Due to the serious nature of the findings and the significant questioned costs, we do not recommend consideration of future awards to the agency until such time as the agency has fully reimbursed all questioned costs and provided sufficient evidence that management is in place to ensure financial accountability," County Auditor Virginia Porter wrote in the audit report. Don Sneed, executive director and founder of the agency and a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS, said that the expenses were "a bookkeeping problem" that could be substantiated by financial records, the Morning News reports. He added that federal rules limited the amount of money Renaissance could spend on administrative activities. "There is a huge amount of administration that needs to be done on these grants," Sneed said, adding, "We've found that you cannot get that done and provide services effectively."
Sneed said that Renaissance has been audited by the county in the past "and never had any problems like this," according to the Morning News. The Texas Department of Health in February conducted an audit of Renaissance and requested that the organization reimburse the state for $76,958 in grants. County audits in the past two fiscal years have questioned how contracts were awarded, how grants "appeared to be commingled" and how the staff received compensation, the Morning News reports. When auditors asked Sneed why he and 14 Renaissance employees received a total of $22,255 in bonuses last year, he said that employees had "put in a horrific number of hours." According to Sneed, Renaissance, which had a $1.1 million budget last year, in February withdrew from receiving about $400,000 annually in Ryan White funding and currently is funded by $556,000 in grants from CDC (Jacobson, Dallas Morning News, 8/18).