Audit raises concerns about education funding oversight

  • FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2017, file photo, Frank Edelblut listens during a public hearing in Concord, N.H., on his nomination to lead the state's education department. Edelblut will serve as New Hampshire's next education commissioner, despite concerns from the public and state board of education about his lack of a professional background in public education. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File) Elise Amendola

Associated Press
Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A federal audit of how New Hampshire manages federal education money found the state has failed to independently monitor schools to ensure they are using the money appropriately.

The U.S. Department of Education reviewed 19 areas in a fiscal review of how the state Education Department administers federal grants last fall. In a report issued to the state in August, auditors rated the state satisfactory on eight measures and said it is meeting requirements but should make improvements in five other areas. The audit found six areas of significant concern requiring action by Oct. 18, including a failure to monitor grant recipients to ensure that performance goals are met and that money is being used for authorized purposes.

“This lack of fiscal oversight creates a significant risk that subrecipients could mismanage federal programs, resulting in potential unallowable expenditures or instances of waste, fraud or abuse,” the report states.

The state also was faulted for lacking a standard process to ensure that schools have fixed problems identified in audits and for relying on external auditors to evaluate its operations and internal controls.

Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut, who took office in February, said he has worked with the federal government to address the concerns.

“We are confident in the effectiveness of the current systems of internal control we have in place now and going forward,” he said.

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu said some of the findings were disappointing and troubling.

“Under the leadership of Commissioner Edelbut, we are putting the state on a path of sound internal controls, meeting our fiduciary responsibilities to taxpayers and our regulatory obligations,” he said.