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)

                                   COMf=‘TROLLER     GENERAL     OF      THE       UNITED   STATES
                                                   WASHINGTON,    D.C.         20548

        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” $T”
      _I           to the Florida           Rural      Legal      Services,        Inc., to operate          a legal       ser-        C.q.$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-

                  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

               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

   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