oversight

The City of West Covina, CA, Did Not Administer Its Community Development Block Grant Program in Accordance With HUD Rules and Requirements

Published by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General on 2015-08-21.

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

                City of West Covina, CA
        Community Development Block Grant Program




Office of Audit, Region 9     Audit Report Number: 2015-LA-1006
Los Angeles, CA                                  August 21, 2015
To:            William G. Vasquez, Director, Office of Community Planning and Development,
               Los Angeles, 9DD

               //SIGNED//
From:          Tanya E. Schulze, Regional Inspector General for Audit, 9DGA
Subject:       The City of West Covina, CA, Did Not Administer Its Community Development
               Block Grant Program in Accordance With HUD Rules and Requirements




Attached is the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Office of Inspector
General’s (OIG) final results of our review of the City of West Covina’s Community
Development Block Grant program.
HUD Handbook 2000.06, REV-4, sets specific timeframes for management decisions on
recommended corrective actions. For each recommendation without a management decision,
please respond and provide status reports in accordance with the HUD Handbook. Please furnish
us copies of any correspondence or directives issued because of the audit.
The Inspector General Act, Title 5 United States Code, section 8M, requires that OIG post its
publicly available reports on the OIG Web site. Accordingly, this report will be posted at
http://www.hudoig.gov.
If you have any questions or comments about this report, please do not hesitate to call me at
213-534-2471.
                        Audit Report Number: 2015-LA-1006
                        Date: August 21, 2015

                        The City of West Covina, CA, Did Not Administer Its Community
                        Development Block Grant Program in Accordance With HUD Rules and
                        Requirements



Highlights

What We Audited and Why
We audited the City of West Covina’s Community Development Block Grant program because
of a news article 1 raising concerns about the City’s financial policies and past spending practices
that included the mismanagement of funds. The review was also the first time that the Office of
Inspector General had conducted a review of the City. Our objective was to determine whether
the City administered its program in accordance with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development (HUD) rules and requirements. Specifically, we wanted to determine whether the
City ensured that expenditures were supported and eligible.

What We Found
The City did not operate its program in accordance with HUD rules and requirements. The City
drew down $218,324 in program funds without supporting documentation. It also made a
substantial change order to a contract without following appropriate HUD requirements. The
problem occurred because the City did not have program policies and procedures in place until
December 2014. As a result, it incurred $218,324 in unsupported program expenses that may not
have been used to further its program national objective to benefit low- and moderate-income
persons.
The City also did not comply with program timeliness spending requirements. It attributed this
noncompliance to understaffing, staff turnover, and a changing census tract. As a result, the City
had more than $1.7 million in unspent program funds that had not been used toward meeting its
program national objectives. However, the Los Angeles Office of Community Planning and
Development was working with the City to address this issue.

What We Recommend
We recommend that the Director of HUD’s Los Angeles Office of Community Planning and
Development require the City to (1) support the $218,324 in questioned costs, (2) ensure that it
fully implements its program internal policies and procedures executed in December 2014, (3)
revise its procurement policies and procedures to ensure that current and future procurements of



1
 San Gabriel Valley Tribune: Local, state officials call for state controller’s audit of West Covina posted on April
27, 2014.
goods and services comply with HUD rules and requirements, and (4) execute a workout plan
with the Los Angeles Office of Community Planning and Development to ensure that it meets its
timeliness requirements. If the funds are not spent in accordance with the workout plan, the
Office of Community Planning and Development should take appropriate actions against the
City.
Table of Contents
Background and Objective......................................................................................3

Results of Audit ........................................................................................................4
         Finding 1: The City Did Not Always Spend Program Funds in Accordance With
         HUD Rules and Requirements ......................................................................................... 4

         Finding 2: The City Did Not Comply With Program Spending Requirements ......... 7

Scope and Methodology ...........................................................................................9

Internal Controls ....................................................................................................10

Appendixes ..............................................................................................................11
         A. Schedule of Questioned Costs .................................................................................. 11

         B. Auditee Comments and OIG’s Evaluation ............................................................. 12

         C. Criteria ....................................................................................................................... 15




                                                                     2
Background and Objective
The City of West Covina, CA, is a recipient of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development’s (HUD) Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) entitlement program funds.
The program funds are intended to help the City develop viable urban communities by providing
decent housing and a suitable living environment and by expanding economic opportunities,
principally for low- and moderate-income persons. The program is authorized under Title 1 of the
Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, Public Law 93-383, as amended (42 U.S.C.
(United States Code) 530.1 et seq).
The City was awarded more than $2.4 million in funding through the HUD program for program
years 2012 through 2014. As of April 13, 2015, HUD’s Line of Credit Control System 2 reports
showed that the City had drawn down $790,196 in program funds. The City identified the
following objectives for its use of program funds:
    1.      Provide decent housing. The City includes a wide range of housing activities under the
            program. It focuses on housing programs in which the purpose of the program is to
            meet individual family or community needs and does not include programs in which
            housing is an element of a larger communitywide improvement effort. The latter
            programs are more appropriately reported under the “creating a suitable living
            environment” objective.

    2.      Creating a suitable living environment. The City will undertake activities to benefit
            communities, families, or individuals by addressing issues in their living environment.

    3.      Creating economic opportunities. The City will undertake activities related to economic
            development, commercial revitalization, or job creation.
The City’s Community Services Department manages the program funds to meet these objectives.
The objective of our audit was to determine whether the City administered its program in
accordance with applicable HUD rules and requirements. Specifically, we wanted to determine
whether the City ensured that expenditures were supported and eligible.




2
 The Line of Credit Control System (LOCCS) is HUD’s primary grant disbursement system, used for handling
disbursements for the majority of HUD programs.



                                                      3
Results of Audit

Finding 1: The City Did Not Always Spend Program Funds in
Accordance With HUD Rules and Requirements
The City did not always spend program funds in accordance with requirements. Specifically, it
paid $218,324 for expenses for which it could not support the eligibility. It also approved a
change order that increased the original construction contract without required documentation to
justify the cost increase. The problems occurred because before December 2014, the City did
not have policies and procedures in place to monitor and ensure that questioned costs were
supported and eligible. In addition, the City used general procurement procedures, which did not
take into consideration applicable HUD rules and requirements that would have ensured
complete documentation of its procurement actions. As a result, it incurred $218,324 in
unsupported expenses and raised concerns about the justification and use of program funds.

The City Reimbursed for Unsupported Expenses
We reviewed $278,156 in program expenditures and found that the City reimbursed $218,324 in
contractors’ expenses for three CDBG-funded projects (table below) for which it could not
provide supporting documentation in accordance with 24 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations)
570.506(h) (see appendix C).

              Voucher                                       Voucher Unsupported
                                    Activity name
              number                                        amount     costs
                                  Residential street
              5618655                                       $60,220       $60,220
                                rehabilitation–CDBG
              5673796          Street barrier removals      $66,308       $66,308
              5634384          ADA tot lot–wood chips       $93,408       $91,796
               Total                                       $219,936      $218,324

The City departments, such as the engineering or building and safety division, collected the
documents from contractors and vendors to submit to the City’s finance department for
processing and payment. The submitted documents included invoices from contractors with only
brief descriptions and the lump sum of the amount to be reimbursed. Invoices did not include
details, such as what was performed or a breakdown of materials or labor costs. These
departments did not ensure that expenditures had been incurred to support the reimbursements.
Source documentation, such as receipts for materials and labor, were needed to show whether
items were purchased or rehabilitated and the costs were reimbursed according to the scope of
work.

The City explained that expenditure reports were generated from its accounting system and it
maintained a spreadsheet to track the amount that needed to be drawn for reimbursement. The
Community Services Department created a voucher for the activity for the amounts to be drawn,
which was sent to the Finance Department for processing and payment. This process was


                                               4
inadequate because it did not support the eligibility of the funds spent. The City contacted the
contractors to obtain the source documentation. This condition occurred because before
December 2014, the City did not have policies and procedures in place to monitor and ensure
that program costs were supported and eligible. In December 2014, it implemented new program
internal policies and procedures to ensure that source documentation was obtained before
payment was made.

The City Inappropriately Approved a Material Contract Change Order
On June 4, 2013, the City councilmembers approved a construction contract for $782,215 3 for
the rehabilitation of 28 residential streets. On July 2, 2013, the councilmembers approved a
change order that increased the contract from $782,215 to more than $2.1 million, which allowed
the contractor to perform additional construction work on 16 more residential streets. Although
the City obtained approval from councilmembers for the material change order, there was no
documentation to show that it performed a cost or price analysis as required by 24 CFR
85.36(f)(1) (see appendix C).
The City noted in its files only that the increase in the contract was due to favorable pricing
conditions. Regulations at 24 CFR 85.36(g)(2)(v) required that the City make available
preaward review procurement documents, such as proposals or invitations for bids, independent
cost estimates, etc., when a proposed contract modification changed the scope of a contract or
increased the contract amount by more than $100,000 (see appendix C). This condition occurred
because the City had policies and procedures that were separate from its implemented December
2014 program procedures, which did not consider applicable HUD rules and regulations to
ensure proper documentation of its program-funded procurement actions. The City’s lack of
consideration of HUD rules and requirements for procurement actions raised concerns that it
may have spent more program funds toward projects than needed. Since program funds were not
significant to the contract, only $85,000 of the total contract of more than $2.1 million, or 4
percent, we did not question the eligibility of the related costs; however, it is important that the
City maintain complete documentation to ensure compliance with procurement requirements for
its current and future contracts to minimize the risk or concerns regarding its use of HUD funds.

Conclusion
The City did not always spend program funds according to HUD rules and requirements. It
incurred $218,324 in questioned costs and approved a change order that materially increased the
original construction contract without required documentation justifying the cost increase. These
conditions occurred because before December 2014, the City did not have program policies and
procedures to ensure that source documentation was used to support program expenses and that it
followed applicable HUD rules and requirements for its procurement procedures. As a result, it
reimbursed $218,324 in unsupported costs, which would not have ensured that the program




3
  The construction contract was for $782,215. However, the project funding totaled $919,281, including preliminary
engineering, contingency, administration, etc. Of the $919,281, $340,029 (37 percent) was funded with CDBG
funds.




                                                        5
national objective to benefit low- and moderate-income persons was met. Further, the City’s
lack of consideration of HUD procurement rules and requirements raised concerns about the
justification and use of program funds.
Recommendations
We recommend that the Director of HUD’s Los Angeles Office of Community Planning and
Development require the City to
       1A.    Support the eligibility of the $218,324 in questioned costs or repay the U.S.
              Treasury using non-Federal funds.
       1B.    Ensure that it has fully implemented its program internal policies and procedures,
              executed in December 2014, to comply with HUD rules and requirements.
       1C.    Revise its general internal procurement policies and procedures to ensure that
              current and future procurement of HUD-funded goods and services complies with
              HUD rules and regulations.




                                                6
Finding 2: The City Did Not Comply With Program Spending
Requirements
The City did not ensure compliance with program timeliness spending requirements, and as of
April 13, 2015, it had spent only $790,196 of its more than $2.4 million in program funds. This
condition occurred due to understaffing, staff turnover, and the development of a new census
tract that made once-qualified projects no longer qualified. As a result, more than $1.7 million in
unspent program funds had not been used toward meeting the City’s program national objective
to benefit low- and moderate-income persons.
The City Did Not Comply With Program Spending Requirements
The City did not meet program timeliness spending requirements. It received more than $2.4
million in program funds for program years 2012 through 2014. Of that amount, as of April 13,
2015, it had spent only $790,196, or 32 percent, of its allocated funds. Further, the City had
spent only funds from its 2012 program year and none from its 2013 and 2014 program years. It
had not spent more than $1.7 million of its more than $2.4 million (68 percent) in program funds.

HUD regulations at 24 CFR 570.902(a)(1)(i) require that HUD consider the City to be failing to
carry out its program activities if “sixty days prior to the end of the grantee’s current program
year, the amount of entitlement grant funds available to the recipient under grant agreements but
undisbursed by the U.S. Treasury is more than 1.5 times the entitlement grant amount for its
current program year” (appendix C). According to HUD’s Integrated Disbursement and
Information System 4, it had 2.16 times the amount in available program funds for its current
program year, thereby not meeting HUD’s timeliness requirement. The City stated that this
problem occurred due to understaffing and staff turnover within its departments. In addition, the
City explained that when the new census tract was developed, the approved projects that were
once qualified were no longer qualified.

On May 18, 2015, the Los Angeles Office of Community Planning and Development issued a
notification of noncompliance with regulatory expenditure rate letter to the City requiring it to
submit a workout plan with proposals for corrective action related to the timeliness requirement
issue. The first quarterly workout plan report is due no later than October 30, 2015. The Los
Angeles Office also required the City to provide quarterly reports until the timeliness standard is
met.

Conclusion
The City did not comply with the program timeliness spending requirements. It had spent only
$790,196 of its more than $2.4 million in allocated program funds. This condition occurred
because the City was understaffed and had staff turnover. In addition, the City explained that
when the new census tract was developed, the approved projects that were once qualified were




4
 The Integrated Disbursement and Information System (IDIS) provides HUD with current information regarding the
program activities underway across the Nation, including funding data.



                                                      7
no longer qualified. As a result, the City had more than $1.7 million in unspent program funds
that it had not used toward meeting its program national objective to benefit low- and moderate-
income persons and is at risk of losing the funds if it does not spend them.
Recommendations
We recommend that the Director of HUD’s Office of Community Planning and Development
require the City to
       2A.    Execute a workout plan to ensure that it meets the program timeliness spending
              requirements. If the funds are not spent in accordance with the workout plan, the
              Los Angeles Office of Community Planning and Development should take the
              appropriate actions against the City.




                                                8
Scope and Methodology
We performed our onsite work at the City’s offices located at 1444 West Garvey Avenue South,
West Covina, CA, from April to June 2015. Our audit work was grant specific, covered the
period October 1, 2011, to September 30, 2014, and was expanded as necessary.
To accomplish our audit objective, we

   •   Reviewed relevant HUD program requirements and regulations,

   •   Reviewed the City’s policies and procedures,

   •   Reviewed executed agreements,

   •   Reviewed information from HUD’s Line of Credit Control System,

   •   Reviewed information from HUD’s Integrated Disbursement and Information System,

   •   Reviewed files and expenditures that pertained to reviewed vouchers,

   •   Reviewed relevant board minutes and resolutions, and

   •   Interviewed City personnel responsible for administering the program.
We selected a nonstatistical sample based on the highest dollar amount for the grants within our
audit period. As of April 13, 2015, the City had spent only its 2012 program funds. It had not
spent its grant funds for years 2013 and 2014.
HUD awarded the City more than $2.4 million in program funds for grant years 2012 through
2014. Of this amount, the City had spent only $790,196. Our sample included a review of four
vouchers totaling $278,156.
Computer-processed data generated by the City were not used to materially support our audit
findings, conclusions, and recommendations. However, we assessed the City’s accounting
system and the reports it generated and determined the information to be reasonably reliable.
We conducted the audit in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.
Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain sufficient, appropriate
evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit
objective(s). We believe that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings
and conclusions based on our audit objective.




                                                9
Internal Controls
Internal control is a process adopted by those charged with governance and management,
designed to provide reasonable assurance about the achievement of the organization’s mission,
goals, and objectives with regard to

•   Effectiveness and efficiency of operations,

•   Reliability of financial reporting, and

•   Compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
Internal controls comprise the plans, policies, methods, and procedures used to meet the
organization’s mission, goals, and objectives. Internal controls include the processes and
procedures for planning, organizing, directing, and controlling program operations as well as the
systems for measuring, reporting, and monitoring program performance.

Relevant Internal Controls
We determined that the following internal controls were relevant to our audit objective:

•   Effectiveness and efficiency of program operations – Implementation of policies and
    procedures to ensure that program funds are used for eligible purposes.

•   Reliability of financial information – Implementation of policies and procedures to
    reasonably ensure that relevant and reliable information is obtained to support eligible
    program expenditures.

•   Compliance with applicable laws and regulations – Implementation of policies and
    procedures to ensure that the monitoring of and expenditures for program activities comply
    with applicable HUD rules and requirements.
We assessed the relevant controls identified above.
A deficiency in internal control exists when the design or operation of a control does not allow
management or employees, in the normal course of performing their assigned functions, the
reasonable opportunity to prevent, detect, or correct (1) impairments to effectiveness or
efficiency of operations, (2) misstatements in financial or performance information, or (3)
violations of laws and regulations on a timely basis.

Significant Deficiency
Based on our review, we believe that the following item is a significant deficiency:

•    The City did not have policies and procedures in place to ensure that program funds were
    used in compliance with HUD rules and requirements (findings 1 and 2).


                                                  10
Appendixes

Appendix A


                             Schedule of Questioned Costs
                           Recommendation
                                             Unsupported 1/
                               number
                                   1A              $218,324

                                 Totals            $218,324



1/   Unsupported costs are those costs charged to a HUD-financed or HUD-insured program
     or activity when we cannot determine eligibility at the time of the audit. Unsupported
     costs require a decision by HUD program officials. This decision, in addition to
     obtaining supporting documentation, might involve a legal interpretation or clarification
     of departmental policies and procedures.




                                              11
Appendix B
             Auditee Comments and OIG’s Evaluation



Ref to OIG    Auditee Comments
Evaluation




Comment 1



Comment 2




                               12
13
                         OIG Evaluation of Auditee Comments


Comment 1   We appreciate and commend the City for taking action to obtain the source
            documentation to support the eligibility of the $218,324 in questioned costs and
            ensure the implementation of controls to maintain program records.

Comment 2   We appreciate the City’s initiative to submit the required amendments and plans
            to comply with program timeliness requirements.




                                             14
Appendix C
                                            Criteria
The following sections of 24 CFR Part 85, 2 CFR Part 225, 24 CFR Part 570, and Handbook for
Community Development Block Grant Subrecipients on Administrative Systems were relevant
to our audit of the City’s administration of program funds.
24 CFR Part 85, Administrative Requirements for Grants and Cooperative Agreements to State,
Local, and Federally Recognized Indian Tribal Governments
.20, Standards for financial management systems
       (b) The financial management systems of other grantees and subgrantees must meet the
       following standards:
       (3) Internal control. Effective control and accountability must be maintained for all grant
       and subgrant cash, real and personal property, and other assets. Grantees and subgrantees
       must adequately safeguard all such property and must assure that is used solely for
       authorized purposes.
       (5) Allowable cost. Applicable OMB [Office of Management and Budget] cost
       principles, agency program regulations, and the terms of grant and subgrant agreements
       will be followed in determining the reasonableness, allowability, and allocability of costs.
       (6) Source documentation. Accounting records must be supported by such source
       documentation as cancelled checks, paid bills, payrolls, time and attendance records,
       contract and subgrant award documents, etc.
.36, Procurement
       (f) Contract cost and price. (1) Grantees and subgrantees must perform a cost or price
       analysis in connection with every procurement action including contract modifications.
       The method and degree of analysis is dependent on the facts surrounding the particular
       procurement situation, but as a starting point, grantees must make independent estimates
       before receiving bids or proposals. A cost analysis must be performed when the offeror
       is required to submit the elements of his estimated cost, e.g., under professional,
       consulting, and architectural engineering services contracts. A cost analysis will be
       necessary when adequate price competition is lacking, and for sole source procurements,
       including contract modifications or change orders, unless price reasonableness can be
       established on the basis of a catalog or market price of a commercial product sold in
       substantial quantities to the general public or based on prices set by law or regulation. A
       price analysis will be used in all other instances to determine the reasonableness of the
       proposed contract price.
       (g) Awarding agency review. (2) Grantees and subgrantees must on request make
       available for awarding agency pre-award review procurement documents, such as
       requests for proposals or invitations for bids, independent cost estimates, etc. when:



                                                 15
       (v) A proposed contract modification changes the scope of a contract or increases the
       contract amount by more than the simplified acquisition threshold.
.40, Monitoring and reporting program performance
       (a) Monitoring by grantees. Grantees are responsible for managing the day-to-day
       operations of grant and subgrant supported activities. Grantees must monitor grant and
       subgrant supported activities to assure compliance with applicable Federal requirements
       and that performance goals are being achieved. Grantee monitoring must cover each
       program, function or activity.
2 CFR Part 225, Cost Principles for State, Local, and Indian Tribal Governments (OMB Circular
A-87)
Appendix A to Part 225 – General Principles for Determining Allowable Costs
C. Basic Guidelines
       1. Factors affecting allowability of costs. To be allowable under Federal awards, costs
       must meet the following general criteria:
               j. Be adequately documented.
24 CFR Part 570, Community Development Block Grants
Subpart J - Grant Administration
570.506, Records to be maintained
Each recipient shall establish and maintain sufficient records to enable the Secretary to determine
whether the recipient has met the requirements of this part. At a minimum, the following records
are needed:
       (h) Financial records, in accordance with the applicable requirements listed in section
       570.502, including source documentation for entities not subject to parts 84 and 85 of this
       title. Grantees shall maintain evidence to support how the CDBG funds provided to such
       entities are expended. Such documentation must include, to the extent applicable,
       invoices, schedules containing comparisons of budgeted amounts and actual
       expenditures, construction progress schedules signed by appropriate parties (e.g., general
       contractor and/or a project architect), and/or other documentation appropriate to the
       nature of the activity.
Subpart O – Performance Reviews
570.902, Review to determine if CDBG funded activities are being carried out in a timely
manner.
HUD will review the performance of each entitlement, HUD-administered small cities, and
Insular Areas recipient to determine whether each recipient is carrying out its CDBG-assisted
activities in a timely manner.



                                                 16
       (a) Entitlement recipients and Non-entitlement CDBG grantees in Hawaii. (1) Before
       the funding of the next annual grant and absent contrary evidence satisfactory to HUD,
       HUD will consider an entitlement recipient or a non-entitlement CDBG grantees in
       Hawaii to be failing to carry out its CDBG activities in a timely manner if:
       (i) Sixty days prior to the end of the grantee’s current program year, the amount of
       entitlement grant funds available to the recipient under grant agreements but undisbursed
       by the U.S. Treasury is more than 1.5 times the entitlement grant amount for its current
       program year.
HUD-2005-05-CPD, Playing by the Rules – A Handbook for CDBG Subrecipients on
Administrative Systems, March 2005
2.5, Source Documentation
The general standard is that all accounting records must be supported by source documentation
(see 24 CFR 85.20(b)(6) and 84.21(b)(7). Supporting documentation is necessary to show that
the costs charged against CDBG funds were incurred during the effective period of the
subrecipient’s agreement with the grantee, were actually paid out (or properly accrued), were
expended on allowable items, and had been approved by the responsible official(s) in the
subrecipient organization.
The source documentation must explain the basis of the costs incurred as well as show the actual
date and amount of expenditures. For example:

•   With respect to payrolls, source documentation should include employment letters and all
    authorizations for rates of pay, benefits, and employee withholdings. Such documentation
    might include union agreements or minutes from board of directors’ meetings where salary
    schedules and benefit packages are established, copies of written personnel policies, W-4
    forms, etc. For staff time charged to the CDBG program activity, time and attendance
    records should be available. If an employee’s time is split between CDBG and another
    funding source, there must be time distribution records supporting the allocation of charges
    among the sources. Canceled checks from the employees, insurance provider, etc., or
    evidence of direct deposits will document the actual outlay of funds.




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