Examination Into the Manner in Which the Office of Education Is Administering the Teacher Corps Program

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1971-03-05.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)


        Dear       Mr.   Marland:

                The General         Accounting      Office  is reviewing      the manner in which the
        Office      of Education         is administering      the Teacher      Corps program,        authorized
        by title       V, part 3, of the Higher            Education      Act of 1965, as amended            (20
        U.S.C,      1101).        Our review     is being made at programs           conducted      by the Uni-
        versity       of Miami;      Western     Carolina   University;      Buffalo     State University
        College;        New York University          and the Bank Street        College     of Education;
        Northern        Arizona     University;      the University       of Southern     California;       and
        participating           elementary      and secondary      schools.

                 Under the program,             the Office      of Education        provides     funds to grantees
        --      usually    institutions           of higher     education      and local      educational         agencies
         (LEAS)     - - to operate           locally     conceived      programs     which have been approved               by
        the applicable           State educational           agency.       The Teacher       Corps program         operates
        on a cycle       basis.         Generally       a cycle     consists     of preservice        training        - - a
        period       of not more than 3 months during                   which the corpsmembers'              suitability
        for training         is determined           - - and 2 academic          years with an inte-rvening
        summer; however,             certain      programs     operate     for a shorter       period      of time.

               Grantees     are required       to submit    final   financial      reports    to Teacher
        Corps Headquarters           in Washington,     D,C. within      60 days after       completion      of
        each budget      period      for which Federal      funds were made available.              Th#ere are
        separate     budget     periods   for each phase of a Teacher            Corps cycle.         On the
        basis    of these financial         reports,    Teacher   Corps Headquarters          can determine
        the amount of unexpended            funds,   if any, that       are required       to be returned
        to the Government.

                In our review,     which    is still    in process,      we noted     that certain     Teacher
        Corps grantees       were retaining     Federal    grant     funds after      the com?Letion      of
        the periods    for which the funds were made available,                  instead   of returning
        these funds as required          by the governing       guidelines.        This and other      related
        matters    are being brought        to your attention       at this    time to enable       appropriate
        corrective    action     to be taken.


                 We found that    22 grantees    participating      in Teacher     Corps programs
         included     in our review    were holding       a total of about     $340,000   of Federal
         funds for up to three       years after      the periods     for which    the funds were
         made available.

                                              50Tl-l   ANMIYERSAX‘:          1921-   1971
        At one of the program        sites  we visited        .- - Board of Education        of the
City of New York - - an LEA official             informed        Teacher   Corps by letter      dated
February     18, 1969, that      the LEA had about         $33,000    of unexpended     funds   and
requested     instructions      as to their   dispositton.           At the time of our audit,
over 18 months         later, the LEA was still        retaining      the funds.     An LEA offi-
cial    told  us that the LEA had not been instructed                 by Teacher    Corps officials
to return     the funds.

        Another      LEA - - Board of Education,                  City of Buffalo      .- - wrote  Teacher
Corps and asked for advice                   concernin, 0 disposition         of about     $28,000 of
unexpended        funds.        An LEA official         informed      us that Teacher       Corps gave them
an option       of either         submitting      all   financial      data and a check for the amount
outstanding         or holding        the cash balance          untii   such time as Teacher       Corps
Headquarters          transferred         the funds to a current           grant  or requested     a refund.
The LEA chose          the    latter     option.        At      the   time   of   our   audit,     four    months
later,     the    LEA was still          retaining        the     funds.

        As a supplement            to the information        obtained       from our individual       pro-
gram reviews,          we randomly       selected     GO of 415 grants           made to LEAS for which
final      financial       reports    had been received         by Teacher        Corps Headquarters.
From our review            of financial      reports     and related        data,   we identified     an
additional         $88,000     of outstanding        unexpended      funds.

         We were informed           by a Teacher         Corps official            that Teacher          Corps realized
that     grantees       had outstandin        g cash balances            and that        they -were attempting             to
collect       them.       The official        stated,      however,       that     Teacher       Corps did not have
sufficient        staff      to obtain      and review        all    financial         reports      and to request
the return        of unexpended          funds.       Since grantees            are retaining           a significant
amount of unused funds,                we believe        that     the Office         of Education         should      take
action      to expedite         the review       of all grantee           final      financial        reports      so as
to identify         all    instances       when Federal         funds are being             retained      subsequent
to completion           of grant      periods      and to effect          the recovery           of such funds.


        We recommend    that   the Commissioner      of Education     (1) provide    for the
early    identification      of Teacher     Corps grantees    that  arts. holding   unused
Federal      funds which should     be recovered     by the Government       and (2) take any
action     deemed necessary      to expedite     the recovery    of such funds.

       In our opinion,          a factor     contributing       to the accumulation            of excess
funds by grantees          was the Teacher          Corps1 practice        of furnishing        grantees
with   specified      amounts     to use in their         budget    requests     for certain         expense
items without       instructing        grantees      to consider      available      information        indi-
cating    that   lesser      amounts would suffice.

         For example,       for the preservice          budget        period,       grantees      have been
instructed       to budget      $100 a corpsmember             for travel         from the corpsmember's
residence      to the preservice           training      site.        At one of the sites             we visited,
the grantee        budgeted     $100 an intern,         or $3,300          for travel        of interns,       but
only spent       $1,370.       During    the previous          preservice        period,       $3,300    was bud-
geted but only $385 was spent.                    We believe        that     provision       for consid,ering
the amount previously             spent for preservice              travel      may have resulted           in a
more realistic         estimate      for preservice          travel      in the follow-on            grant.

        Also,   Teacher    Corps guidelines        have instructed           LEAS to budget          $15 a
week for each intern           as a dependency       allowance.         At one program         included       in
our review,      two L;EAs followed       the guidelines          and budgeted        $15 a week for
each intern      assigned      to them during      the first        year of inservice          training.
At the end of the school            year,   the amounts        budgeted      by the two LEAS exceeded
the amounts      expended      for dependency      allowances         by $5,460     and $5,580        respec-
tively.       In our opinion,       a more accurate         estimate     of dependency        psyments
could have been obtained            by instructing        the LEAS to inquire           into     the interns'
dependency      status    during    the preceding         preservice       training     period.

        At another      program,    the grantees        followed       the Teacher         Corps guidelines
and budgeted       $100 an intern        for travel       to the preservice            training         site,     and
$100 an intern        to pay for moving expenses               from each intern's             place of
residence     to his assigned         LXA after      completion       of preservice           training.           A
total     of $7,400     was budgeted       for these      cost items during            fiscal       year 1969
but only $315 was spent.              At the time the grantees               negotiated         their       budgets
with Teacher       Corps Headquarters,          the interns        for the program            had already
been selected.          Since the interns'         addresses.were          included        in their         applica-
tions,     we believe      that  the grantees        had sufficient          information          available          to
establish     more realistic        estimates      for travel        and moving costs.

        A Teacher       Corps official          informed       us that when Teacher            Corps negotiates
budgets      with grantees,         it considers           cost data provided          in expenditure           reports
submitted       by the grantees          for previous          budget      periods    during     the program
cycle.       However,     the official          stated      that    there     are no written         guidelines
requiring        the grantees       to consider          past cost experience            when preparing           their
budgets.         Since all     information          available       to grantees       would not be included
in an expenditure           report,      we believe         that    instructions       providing        for grantee
consideration         of available         information         and cost data should            be incorporated
into    the Teacher       Corps guidelines.                Consideration         by grantees       of such data

                                                                                                            -   3 .-
prior to the submission of a budget would, in our opinion, result in more
realistic budget estimates and tend to reduce the amount of excess funds on
hand at grantee locations at the close of a budget period,


      We recommend that the Teacher Corps guidelines    be revised to provide
for  the consideration    by grantees of all available cost and other informa-
tion, including    past experience, when preparing budgets in support of their
requests for Pederal    funding.


      Many grantees did not adhere to Teacher Corps guidelines     which provide
that grantees submit a final financial     report within 60 days after -he
completion of a birdget period.     Some reports were outstanding for over 20
months past the due date.    Additionally,    about 31 percent of the final
financial  reports which should have beea submitted to Teacher Corps bg
grantees had not been received.      As a result,  Teacher Corps is unable to
determine how much money was expended by these grantees, whether expenditures
were in line with the budget estimates, and whether any unexpended funds
remained on hand.

      From 1966 through mid-December 1970, approximately   l,l.OO final finan-
cial reports should have been submitted to Teacher Corps for the first
through the fourth cycles of the program.    Only about 740 were received;
therefore,  final financial  reports for 340 budget periods were overdue.

      We randomly selected 60 reports that had been received from LEAS to
determine how many had been submitted in accordance with the time limita-
tion contained in the guidelines.    The results of our sample follow:

      Reports eliminated  because they were not dated                  11
      Reports submitted "on time" in accordance with
        Teacher Corps guidelines                                        9
      Reports which were overdue when submitted:
          2 months or less                                  17
          3 to 4 months                                      7
          5 to 10 months                                     3
          11 to 20 months                                    5
          Over 20 months                                     8
                Total overdue                                           43
          Total examined                                             -ET-

.            ,\ Teacher      Corps official             told us that       Teacher     Corps did not have
    suflicient        staff       to review        records    2nd   to   request     submiss5on        Of fiilL9:l:2ial
    reports.        The     official        stated      that  in   an  effort     to   ensure     timely      sitbmission
    of financial         reports,         Teacher       Corps will     no longer       send additionaL             funds
    to a grantee         if the grantee              has not submitted         a final     financial      report         for
    a previous       budget         period.

             While this        procedure,     if adhered       to, may help somewhat         to increase
    compliance        with the requirements            for submission      of financial        reports,       we
    believe      that     it could 31~0 result           in hindering    the accomplishment             of pro-
    gram objectives            by depriving      worthy     projects  of required       funds.        In oui*
    opinion,       a more constructive           approach      would be for Teacher        Corps to inquire
    into     the reasons         why grantees     have not rendered        the required        financial
    reports      in a timely           manner and take positive       steps to assist          them Ln over-
    coming their         difficulties.

                -.-... -

          Accordingly,         we recommend    that    the Commissioner      of Education     provide
    for effective       liaison     between   Teacher     Corps and grantees      for the purpose
    of identifying        and overcoming      problems      which hinder   the timely     submission
    by grantees      of the financial       reports      which pertain   to their     programs.


           During     our review          of the Teacher    Corps programs      being operated   at the
    University      of Southern           California  we noted    several    instances   where the
    Teacher     Corps guidelines            were not followed.       Certain    of these matters   are
    discussed     below,

            1.    The University         and certain         psrticipating          LEAS acquired
                  five   automobiles        with     $12,000       of Federal       funds - - three
                  were purchased,          one was leased,             and one was leased with
                  an option     to purchase.           The anticipated             cost      of these
                  automobiles       was not included             in the budgets           for the appii-
                  cable budget       periods       and prior        approval       was not obtained
                  from Teacher        Corps.       The guidelines          prohibit         purchase      of
                  equipment     without       approval       from W,lshington           and a Teacher
                  Corps official         informed      us that grantees             must obtain
                  approval    prior      to entering         into      sny lease arrangement.
                  With respect       to leasing        of equipment,            the guidelines           do
                  not clearly       state     that    universities         must obtain          prior
                  approval    from Teacher           Corps Washington.              We suggest         that
                  the guidelines         be strengthened             to clarify       this     matter.

            2.    Three principals      who participated         in the program     received
                  a total   of about    $13,000     in salaries     from grant    funds for
                  Teacher   Corps related      duties.     Teacher     Corps guidelines
                  expressly    prohibit    such payments       to principals.

       We would appreciate receiving your comments on the matters discussed
in this report and your advice as to any actions taken on our recommenda-
tions.    Copies of thi.s report are being sent to the Assistant Secretary,
Comptroller,   Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, for his

                                           Sincerely   yours,

The Honorable Sidney P. Marland,   Jr.
U.S, Commissioner of Education
Department of Health, Education,
  and Welfare