Mr. Joseph Fisher Page 2 of 6 IDEA Amendments of 1997 changed the formula to require States to allocate funds to the LEAs based on total student population and the number of students living in poverty. The new formula was slated to take effect when the Grants to States program exceeded $4.925 billion. This trigger figure was reached in FY 2000 making it the first year of the new formula and making FY 1999 the base. The new funding formula has several components, some of which are funds the States may use at the state level. Although the new formula has several components, our audit focused on the funds designated for allocation to the LEAs. These funds are known as the “minimum flow- through funds.” The minimum flow-through funds are composed of three components – a fixed base amount, an amount based on total student population, and an amount based on the number of students living at poverty level. The base figure for each LEA is the amount the LEA would have received for the base year (FY 1999), if the State had distributed 75 percent of its grant for that year. According to § 611(g)(2)(B)(ii), each State is required to distribute 85 percent of the population and poverty funds on a pro rata basis according to the LEAs’ public and private elementary and secondary school enrollment. The remaining 15 percent is distributed to each LEA on a pro rata basis according to the number of children living in poverty. Each year in July the Department provides a Grant Notification Letter to each State that identifies the funding level for the flow-through components. Tennessee allocated IDEA, Part B, § 611 funds to 146 LEAs in FY 2000. Because of a school closure, the state allocated funds to 145 LEAs in FY 2001. AUDIT RESULTS We determined that Tennessee did not comply with the new IDEA, Part B, § 611 funding formula for FY 2000. Specifically, Tennessee incorrectly calculated the base allocation for each LEA using the 1999 children with disabilities child count instead of using the 1998 children with disabilities child count. The 1998 children with disabilities child count was the number used by the Department to establish the base allocation for Tennessee. The base allocation was a fixed number and was not supposed to change from year to year once the new funding formula took effect. According to Enclosure A of the FY 2000 Grant Notification Letter, “[L]ocal awards, like state awards, are no longer based on [children with disabilities] child count.” In addition, federal regulations [34 C.F.R. § 300.712(b)(2)] allow for adjustments to the base figure under very specific conditions--a new LEA is created, LEAs are combined, or the administrative responsibility or geographic boundaries of an LEA is changed. Tennessee’s miscalculation of the base to its LEAs in FY 2000 did not meet any of these conditions. As a result of incorrectly calculating the base figure, 84 LEAs were over funded by amounts ranging from $484 to $92,043 while 62 LEAs were under funded by amounts ranging from $82 to $326,755. We determined that Tennessee was in compliance for FY 2001. Mr. Joseph Fisher Page 3 of 6 Tables A-1 and A-2 represent the amounts Tennessee was required to allocate for FYs 2000 and 2001, according to the Department’s Grant Notification Letters and the actual amounts that Tennessee allocated. Table B illustrates the effect that incorrectly calculating the LEAs’ base allocation had on six of the LEAs. TABLE A-1 FY 2000 Funding Component Grant Notification Letter Tennessee’s Required Funding Amounts Actual Funding Amounts Total Minimum Flow Through to LEAs $82,026,989 *$82,034,232 LEA Base Allocation $66,522,917 **$66,522,957 LEA Population/Poverty $15,504,072 $15,511,275 85% Population Allocation ***$13,178,461 $13,184,579 15% Poverty Allocation ***$ 2,325,611 $ 2,326,696 * Tennessee over funded the Total Minimum Flow Through funds by $7,243. ** Tennessee over funded the FY 2000 base allocation by $40. *** OIG calculations from the Population/Poverty figure in the Grant Notification Letter. TABLE A-2 FY 2001 Funding Component Grant Notification Letter Tennessee’s Required Funding Amounts Actual Funding Amounts Total Minimum Flow Through to LEAs $106,503,848 *$106,503,848 LEA Base Allocation $ 66,522,917 $ 66,522,917 LEA Population/Poverty $ 39,980,931 *$ 39,980,933 85% Population Allocation **$ 33,983,791 $ 33,983,793 15% Poverty Allocation **$ 5,997,140 $ 5,997,140 * Rounding difference of $2. ** OIG calculations from the Population/Poverty figure in the Grant Notification Letter. TABLE B TENNESSEE OVER/UNDER FUNDING EXAMPLES FY 2000 Incorrect Base Correct Base *Difference Memphis $6,381,862 $6,709,701 $(327,839) Knox $3,646,553 $3,906,127 $(259,574) Shelby $3,178,333 $3,298,841 $(120,508) Nashville $5,103,180 $5,011,791 $91,389 Tipton $ 975,284 $ 912,225 $63,059 Rutherford $1,581,555 $1,524,178 $57,377 * The difference represents errors in calculating the base allocation for these districts and not the total amount under or over allocated Mr. Joseph Fisher Page 4 of 6 RECOMMENDATION We recommend that the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services require Tennessee officials to recompute the FY 2000 flow-through funds using the correct base, population, and poverty figures and to reallocate the correct funding to the LEAs. TENNESSEE’S COMMENTS TO THE DRAFT REPORT Tennessee agreed that allocations for FY 2000 and FY 2001 should be based on the same children with disabilities child count when determining the base allocation. Tennessee stated that the base allocation should be calculated using the December 1998 children with disabilities child count. Tennessee also stated that the allocations for FY 2000 were incorrectly based on the December 1999 children with disabilities child count while allocations for FY 2001 were correctly based on the December 1998 children with disabilities child count. Regarding the recommendation to reallocate for FY 2000, Tennessee stated, “Since this award is no longer available for use, we propose utilizing some of Tennessee’s discretionary money from the FY 2001 award to reallocate funds to those LEAs who did not receive their fair share.” OIG’S RESPONSE Based on documents provided, we agree with Tennessee’s position that the FY 2000 allocations should have used the December 1998 children with disabilities child count as the base. Accordingly, we have changed our finding and recommendation. Tennessee’s proposal to utilize State discretionary funds from FY 2001 to reallocate funds to those LEAs who did not receive their fair share in FY 2000 should be addressed by the Department’s action official responsible for resolution of this audit. OBJECTIVE, SCOPE, AND METHODOLOGY The objective of our audit was to determine if Tennessee complied with the new IDEA, Part B, § 611 funding requirements for FY 2000 and 2001. To accomplish our objective, we: • Obtained Tennessee’s formula allocation to all the LEAs, including the allocation breakdown of the base, population, and poverty amounts for FYs 2000 and 2001. • Reviewed the Tennessee State Auditor report for 2000. • Interviewed State officials regarding the data used in the allocation formula, the methodology used in the formula, and other applicable policies and procedures. Mr. Joseph Fisher Page 5 of 6 • Recalculated the allocation for all Tennessee LEAs. • Performed limited data reliability tests on the data used in the allocation formula and found the data to be reliable for our purposes. Our audit of Tennessee’s formula allocation covered FYs 2000 and 2001. We performed fieldwork from December 10 through December 13, 2001, at the State offices in Nashville, Tennessee. A pre-exit conference was held on December 13, 2001 and a final exit conference was held on March 22, 2002. Our work was performed in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards appropriate to the scope of the audit described above. STATEMENT OF MANAGEMENT CONTROLS As part of our review, we assessed the management control system of policies, procedures, and practices applicable to Tennessee’s compliance with IDEA, Part B, § 611. Our assessment was performed to determine the level of control risk for determining the nature, extent, and timing of our substantive tests to accomplish the audit objective. Because of inherent limitations, a study and evaluation made for the limited purpose described above would not necessarily disclose all material weaknesses in the management controls. However, our assessment disclosed a management control weakness that affected the allocation of FY 2000 flow-through funds to Tennessee’s LEAs. That weakness is discussed in the Audit Results section of this report. ADMINISTRATIVE MATTERS If you have any additional comments or information that you believe may have a bearing on the resolution of this audit, you should send them directly to the following U.S. Department of Education official, who will consider them before taking final Departmental action on the audit: Dr. Robert H. Pasternack, Assistant Secretary U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education & Rehabilitative Services 330 C Street, SW Room 3006, MES Building Washington, DC 20202-2500 Office of Management and Budget Circular A-50 directs Federal agencies to expedite the resolution of audits by initiating timely action on the findings and recommendations contained therein. Therefore, we request receipt of your comments within 30 days. REPORT DISTRIBUTION LIST CONTROL NO. ED-OIG/A06-C0005 Auditee ED Action Official Mr. Joseph Fisher Dr. Robert H. Pasternack Assistant Commissioner Assistant Secretary Tennessee Department of Education Office of Special Education and 710 James Robertson Parkway Rehabilitative Services Nashville, TN 37243-0380 Other ED Officials/Staff (electronic copy) Audit Liaison Officer Press Secretary Office of Special Education and Office of Public Affairs Rehabilitative Services Correspondence Control Assistant General Counsel Office of General Counsel Office of the General Counsel Assistant Secretary Deputy Secretary Office of Legislation and Office of the Deputy Secretary Congressional Affairs Assistant Secretary Chief of Staff Office of Intergovernmental Office of the Secretary and Interagency Affairs Director Under Secretary Financial Improvement and Office of the Under Secretary Post Audit Operations Office of the Chief Financial Officer Post Audit Group Supervisor Director Financial Improvement and Office of Public Affairs Post Audit Operations Office of the Chief Financial Officer Indirect Cost Group Supervisor Regional Commissioner Rehabilitation Services Financial Improvement and Administration, Region VI Post Audit Operations Office of the Chief Financial Officer
Audit of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part B, § 611, at the Tennessee Department of Education (Tennessee).
Published by the Department of Education, Office of Inspector General on 2002-06-25.
Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)