Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector Cindy Byrd released a federal audit today of payments meant for relief during the pandemic and found that over $29 million in “questioned costs” were misappropriated.
You can read the full report in the link below.
According to the report, “The federal government will review the reported questioned costs and determine if the State must repay misappropriated funds.”
“Every federal grant comes with very strict requirements which the State of
Oklahoma agrees to follow,” said Auditor Byrd. “Any person in charge of managing federal grants needs a certain level of proficiency because the compliance regulations are very complicated.”
The report discovered “a deliberate operation to give selected private schools and individuals preferential treatment by allowing early access for application submission prior to the date this program was offered to the general public… As a result, 657 students of low-income families who qualified for the SIS program did not get the financial assistance they requested because the funds were exhausted.”
Last May, The Frontier and Oklahoma Watch reported that a program touted by Governor Kevin Stitt and then Secretary of Education Ryan Walters allowed families to buy Christmas trees, gaming consoles, and hundreds of televisions, while also returning nearly $3 million in unspent relief money.
Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond released a statement following the report saying, “A number of concerning items from the audit will require further investigation. I refuse to tolerate what amounts to a pervasive culture of waste, mismanagement and apparent fraud.”