Accountants Unable to Audit Books of Clinton Pet Project
Mar. 14, 1996
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The financial books for President Clinton's pet project to help youths earn college dollars through community service are in such disarray they could not be audited, officials said Wednesday.
The head of the Corporation for National Service, which oversees Clinton's AmeriCorps initiative, acknowledged he was concerned by the shoddy record keeping.
``There were a number of specific recommendations that have to be made to make the corporation's statements auditable, and we take that very seriously,'' said Harris Wofford, a former Pennsylvania senator appointed by Clinton to oversee the program.
The problems were uncovered by an investigation conducted by the inspector general, the corporation's internal watchdog, and were disclosed this month in a letter to some members of Congress.
``The review has concluded that the corporation's financial statements from its first year of operations are not auditable, and that the corporation needs to take additional steps to strengthen internal controls within the organization,'' Wofford wrote.
The disclosure drew an immediate sharp response.
``If the Corporation for National Service was a publicly traded corporation and received a report like this, public trading of the stock likely would be halted immediately, the value of the corporation would plummet, and the corporation's management team would be highly scrutinized,'' said Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., chairman of a House subcommittee that oversees the program.
The corporation was set up as a public-private partnership to oversee Americorps, which is mostly government-funded, and other public service programs.
The poor bookkeeping comes on the heels of a congressional study last year that found Americorps' cost per participant was nearly $27,000, sharply higher than the $18,000 promised by the president.
Wofford said he did not have a copy of the inspector general's report, but that the problems identified included ``accounting, record keeping and management control activities.''
Hoekstra said information provided to him by Arthur Anderson, one of the firms that did the review, said the corporation:
_Had records that are inaccurate and incomplete and have unrecorded entries.
_Had financial data that could be changed easily by people who should not have access to financial records.
_Lacked segregation of duties, meaning an individual could authorize, receive and pay for a purchase and change documents related to the purchase.
_Lacked budgetary controls.
The corporation received about $469 million in government funding in 1995. This year, the Senate has recommended funding it at about $383 million or about 80 percent of last year's funding.