COMf=‘TROLLER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES WASHINGTON, D.C. 20548 B-130515 c@ Dear Mr. PeAins: Pursuant to your requests of July 13 and 15, 1971, we are enclos- I ing a report on our mwe*.I financial audit of an Office ,a..mliu.w.rr.~ m-.-- of. Economic Opportunity 7I ,.,,., _.Y,. “..r” $T” sgrant _I to the Florida Rural Legal Services, Inc., to operate a legal ser- C.q.$Y -- .-.-- I d v&z_Eosr%E in six southern Florida counties during the 12-month period ended September 30, 1971. In accordance with your request, par- ticular attention was paid to the expenditures and activities of Florida Rural*s Belle Glade office. During our audit we also examined into the statements of a Eelle Glade, Florida, attorney concerning the propriety of Florida Rural attorneys* acceptance of certain legal cases for repre- sentation. Our financial audit, which included an examination of the Elelle Glade officeIs financial transactions and internal controls for the period April 1 to June 30, 1971, revealed some deviations from Office of Eco- nomic Opportunity and Florida Rural policies and instructions relating to starting salaries, leave records, severance pay, and non-Federal contributions. We brought these matters to the attention of Florida Rural offi- cials who agreed to take, or give consideration to, corrective actions in most instances. We also brought these matters to the attention of Office of Economic Opportunity officials. We were unable to make a definitive determination as to the eligi- bility of a Florida Rural client whose income and net worth was, accord- ing to the Belle Glade attorney, sufficient to disqualify the client for legal assistance. We did find that Florida Rural’s acceptance of this client*s case appeared questionable. The Office of Economic Opportu- nity permits Legal Services program attorneys, under certain condi- tions, to handle legal cases when the financial situation of a client is nearly poor. We found, however, that the client’s annual income, Florida Rural’s prime factor for determining eligibility, exceeded by $680 the income limitation established by Florida Rural for its clients. Florida RuralIs involvement in a suit for damages filed by the same client, in our opinio y to the Office of Economic 50TH ANNIVERSARY 1921- 1971 B-130515 Opportunity Legal Services program guidelines which prohibit Legal Services program attorneys from providing legal advice in cases in- volving contingent fees when the fee is sufficient to employ private counsel. Also Florida Rural’s representation of this client and other persons charged with quasi-criminal acts under municipal ordinances, although not technically violating the Federal law precluding representa- tion in criminal matters, does, in our opinion, violate the spirit and in- tent of the Federal law because the acts are generally considered to be criminal in nature. We plan to make no further distribution of this report unless copies are specifically requested, and then we shall make distribution only after your agreement has been obtained or public announcement has been made by you concerning the contents of the report. Sincerely yours, Comptroller General of the United States Enclosures - 3 Honorable Carl D. Perkins /” House of Rep re sentative s 2
Financial Audit of an Office of Economic Opportunity Grant to the Florida Rural Legal Services, Inc., To Operate a Legal Services Program in Six Southern Florida Counties
Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1971-11-18.
Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)