oversight

The City of Jacksonville, FL's HOME Investment Partnerships Program Was Not Always Administered in Accordance With HUD Requirements

Published by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General on 2017-09-29.

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

                 City of Jacksonville, FL
             HOME Investment Partnerships Program




Office of Audit, Region 4        Audit Report Number: 2017-AT-1014
Atlanta, GA                                      September 29, 2017
To:            Gary A. Causey, Director, Office of Community Planning and Development, 4HD

                  //Signed//
From:          Nikita N. Irons, Regional Inspector General for Audit, 4AGA
Subject:       The City of Jacksonville, FL’s HOME Investment Partnerships Program Was Not
               Always Administered in Accordance With HUD Requirements


Attached is the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Office of Inspector
General’s (OIG) final results of our audit of the City of Jacksonville, FL’s HOME Investment
Partnerships 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 website. 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
404-331-3369.
                      Audit Report Number: 2017-AT-1014
                      Date: September 29, 2017

                      The City of Jacksonville, FL’s HOME Investment Partnerships Program
                      Was Not Always Administered in Accordance with HUD Requirements



Highlights

What We Audited and Why
We audited the City of Jacksonville, FL’s HOME Investment Partnerships program as part of the
activities in our annual audit plan. Our audit objective was to determine whether the City
administered its HOME program in accordance with applicable U.S. Department of Housing and
Urban Development (HUD) requirements. Specifically, we evaluated whether the City (1)
properly supported HOME commitments in the Integrated Disbursement and Information System
and (2) ensured that all HOME contracts and agreements were properly executed.

What We Found
The City did not always administer its HOME program in accordance with HUD’s requirements.
Specifically, it did not (1) ensure that some HOME contracts and agreements were properly
executed and (2) properly support HOME commitments in the Integrated Disbursement and
Information System 1. This condition occurred because the City’s staff did not comply with
HUD’s HOME program guidance concerning contract execution requirements and commitment
deadlines. As a result, the City entered improper commitments into the information system and
may be at risk of losing the funds to recapture.

What We Recommend
We recommend that HUD (1) recalculate the commitment requirement as a result of the City’s
improperly committing HOME funds for the activities identified and determine the cumulative
effect on the City’s overall commitment requirement, and (2) require the City to establish and
implement controls and procedures to ensure that valid commitment entries and all HOME
contracts and agreements are properly executed.




1
  HUD’s Integrated Disbursement and Information System disburses HOME funds, which are allocated or
reallocated, and collects and reports information on the use of funds in the Treasury account.
Table of Contents
Background and Objective......................................................................................3

Results of Audit ........................................................................................................4
         Finding 1: The City’s HOME Program Was Not Always Administered in
         Accordance With HUD Requirements .................................................................4

Scope and Methodology ...........................................................................................8

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

Appendixes ..............................................................................................................11
         A. Auditee Comments and OIG’s Evaluation ............................................................. 11
Background and Objective
The City of Jacksonville is an entitlement grantee that receives from the U.S. Department of
Housing and Urban Development (HUD) annual allocations of HOME Investment Partnerships
program funds authorized under the National Affordable Housing Act as amended. HUD
allocates funds by formula among eligible State and local governments (participating
jurisdictions) to strengthen public-private partnerships and to expand the supply of decent, safe,
sanitary, and affordable housing.

Participating jurisdictions may use HOME funds to carry out multi-year housing strategies
through acquisition, rehabilitation, and new construction of housing, and tenant-based rental
assistance. Participating jurisdictions may provide assistance in a number of eligible forms,
including loans, advances, equity investments, interest subsidies, and other forms of investment
that HUD approves.

To assist in achieving these purposes, participating jurisdictions must designate a minimum of
15 percent of their HOME allocations for investment in housing to be developed, sponsored, or
owned by community housing development organizations (CHDO). A CHDO is a private,
nonprofit, community-based service organization, the primary purpose of which is to provide
and develop decent, affordable housing for the community it serves. During fiscal years 2014
through 2016, HUD allocated to the City more than $6.5 million in HOME funds, including
nearly $1.1 million in CHDO reserves.

During our audit, Congress suspended the 24-month HOME commitment requirement for
deadlines occurring in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 via the Fiscal Year 2017 Consolidated
Appropriations Act (Public Law No. 115-31). However, the suspension did not apply to CHDO
set-aside funds (CHDO reserves). Therefore, our audit results are based on improper and invalid
commitments funded with CHDO reserves that have deadlines occurring in 2015 or earlier.

Our audit objective was to determine whether the City administered its HOME program in
accordance with applicable HUD requirements. Specifically, we evaluated whether the City (1)
properly supported HOME commitments in the Integrated Disbursement and Information System
and (2) ensured that all HOME contracts and agreements were properly executed.




                                                 3
Results of Audit

Finding 1: The City’s HOME Program Was Not Always
Administered in Accordance With HUD Requirements
The City did not properly commit HOME funds in accordance with HUD’s requirements. This
condition occurred because the City’s staff did not comply with HUD’s HOME program
guidance concerning contract execution requirements and commitment deadlines. As a result,
the City entered improper commitments into the information system and may be at risk of losing
$2.3 million in funds to recapture.
Regulations at 24 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) 92.508; require participating jurisdictions
to commit HOME funds within 24 months of their allocation and report commitment information
in HUD’s information system. Since the 24-month commitment deadline had not been met when
the City committed more than $2.3 million in HOME funds from its CHDO reserves, the funds
were subject to HUD’s cumulative and recapture provisions. Regulation at 24 CFR 92.500(d)
state that HUD will reduce or recapture HOME funds in the HOME Investment Trust Fund by
the amount of any funds from fiscal year 2014 and prior fiscal year allocations in the United
States Treasury account that are not committed within the 24-month deadline. For purposes of
determining the amount by which the HOME Investment Trust Fund will be reduced or
recaptured, HUD will consider the sum of commitments to CHDOs, other commitments, or
expenditures, as applicable, from all fiscal year allocations through the Fiscal Year 2014
allocation. This sum must be equal to or greater than the sum of all fiscal year allocations
through the fiscal year allocation being examined (minus previous reductions to the HOME
Investment Trust Fund), or in the case of commitments to CHDOs, 15 percent of those fiscal
year allocations.


Invalid Commitments Due to Unexecuted Written Agreements
During our audit, we determined that both parties executing the contract or agreement did not
always include a date with their signatures. According to CPD Notices 07-06 and 15-09, the
signatures of all parties signing the agreement or contract must be dated to show the execution
date. Five of the fifteen CHDO contracts and one of the five home buyer assistance loan
agreements were signed but not dated by all of the interested parties.

Two CHDO contracts (activities 5058 and 5059) and one home buyer downpayment assistance
agreement (activity 5059) were not properly executed before the 24-month deadline, which
occurred on September 30, 2014, because the contracts and agreement were not dated.
Therefore, the $155,408 in HOME funds was improperly committed from CHDO reserves and
was subject to HUD’s recapture and cumulative provisions for pre-2015 fiscal year allocations.
See table 1.




                                                4
In addition, three CHDO contracts (activities 5173, 5174, and 4652) were not fully executed
before their applicable 24-month deadline. The City, the CHDO, or both did not date the
contracts. The deadline for activities 5173 and 5174 was September 30, 2015, and for activity
4652 was October 31, 2013. More than $2 million in HOME funds was improperly committed
from CHDO reserves and therefore, was subject to HUD’s recapture and cumulative provisions
for pre-2015 fiscal year allocations. See table 1.

                                                       Table 1
                                                                                    Questioned
                                                                Questioned         downpayment
                                                                  CHDO               assistance           Total
        Activity        Activity           Commitment            contract           agreement           questioned
No.        no.           status            deadline date         amount               amount             amount
 1      5058          Completed            09/30/2014            $ 62,700                                $ 62,700
 2      5059          Completed            09/30/2014              82,708              $10,000             92,708
 3      5173          Open                 09/30/2015             754,313                                 754,313
 4      5174          Open                 09/30/2015             385,687                                 385,687
 5      4652          Completed            10/31/2013             878,624                                 878,624
                                                                                              Total     2,174,032

We discussed this issue with a City official who stated that staff incorrectly viewed the effective
dates in the contracts as execution dates. As a result, the City improperly committed more than
$2.1 million in HOME funds because it did not fully execute the contracts.

Funds Improperly Committed
The City did not properly commit HOME funds according to HUD requirements. We reviewed
10 activities 2 and determined that 2 had issues involving improper commitments. For activity
5455, the City committed HOME funds more than 4 months after the 24-month deadline due to a
delay in the City’s approval of the project. For activity 5456, the City committed the funds in
HUD’s information system without a legally binding agreement and the activity was still open
during our audit. These conditions occurred because the City’s staff did not comply with HUD’s
HOME program guidance concerning commitment deadlines. See table 2.




2
    Our methodology for the sample selection is explained in the Scope and Methodology section of this audit report.




                                                            5
                                                         Table 2
                           Commitment
                            due date             Actual
             Activity      (24-month           agreement         Committed            Drawn           Remaining
    No.        no.          deadline)             date            amount              down             balance
    1        5455         09/30/2015          02/18/2016            $76,808                  $0        $76,808
    2        5456         10/31/2016          07/01/2016*            77,484                   0         77,484
                                                      Total         154,292                   0        154,292
        * The City entered the $77,484 into HUD’s information system without an executed legally binding written
        agreement in place; therefore, the agreement date was invalid. The activity was open in the system until April
        3, 2017.

        •   Activity 5455 was listed under two different program years (2013 and 2014). Based on
            discussions with the City, we used the earlier program year for determining the
            commitment deadline. We determined that the commitment deadline was September 30,
            2015, and the HOME funds for the activity were committed on February 18, 2016, more
            than 4 months after the deadline. As a result, the 24-month commitment deadline had not
            been met when the City committed the $76,808 in HOME funds from CHDO reserves.

        •   Activity 5456, listed under program year 2014, was improperly committed in HUD’s
            information system in July 2016. The system showed this activity as open; although the
            City had not executed a legally binding agreement for the activity. 3 The 24-month
            commitment deadline was October 31, 2016. After we identified this issue, the City
            canceled the activity in the system on April 3, 2017.

Conclusion
The City did not properly commit HOME funds in accordance with HUD’s requirements. We
determined that (1) some HOME contracts and agreements were not properly executed due to
missing signature dates, (2) funds were committed after the 24-month deadline, and (3) funds
were committed in HUD’s information system without a legally binding agreement. As a result,
the City entered improper commitments into the information system for seven contracts and one
homebuyer agreement and may be at risk of losing $2.3 million in funds to recapture.




3
  Regulations at 24 CFR 92.2, provide that a commitment occurs when the participating jurisdiction (1) has executed
a legally binding agreement with a State recipient, a sub recipient, or a contractor to use a specific amount of HOME
funds to produce affordable housing or provide tenant-based rental assistance; (2) has executed a written agreement
reserving a specific amount of funds for a CHDO; or (3) has met the requirements to commit to a specific local
project.




                                                             6
Recommendations
We recommend that the Director of HUD’s Jacksonville, FL, Office of Community Planning and
Development

      1A.    Recalculate the commitment requirement as a result of the City improperly
             committing HOME funds for activities 5455, 5456, 5058, 5059, 5173, 5174, and
             4652 and determine the cumulative effect on the City’s overall commitment
             requirement. Any overpayments should be recaptured or reduced in the HOME
             Investment Trust Fund account.

      1B.    Require the City to establish and implement controls and procedures to ensure
             compliance with requirements for commitments entered into HUD’s information
             system. This includes but is not limited to controls and procedures to ensure that
             valid commitment entries and all HOME contracts and agreements are properly
             executed.




                                              7
Scope and Methodology
We performed our audit work between February and June 2017 at the City’s Housing and
Community Development Division located at 214 North Hogan Street, 7th floor, Jacksonville,
FL. The audit period was January 1, 2014, through December 31, 2016. We expanded the audit
period as needed to accomplish our objective.

To accomplish our objective, we

   •   Reviewed relevant HOME program requirements and applicable Federal regulations to
       gain an understanding of the HOME administration requirements.

   •   Interviewed staff from the HUD Jacksonville, FL, Office of Community Planning and
       Development and the City.

   •   Obtained an understanding of the City’s management controls and procedures through
       interviews with City housing management officials.

   •   Reviewed the City’s consolidated annual performance and evaluation reports and action
       plan for HOME program years 2014 through 2016 to gather data on the City’s
       expenditures and planned activities.

   •   Reviewed reports from the Integrated Disbursement and Information System to obtain
       HOME commitment and expenditure data for the audit period.

   •   Reviewed the City’s organizational chart for its HOME program and its HOME program
       policies, including its HOME policies and procedures manual.

   •   Reviewed HUD’s 2014 monitoring report on the City’s HOME program to determine the
       City’s compliance with program regulations and guidelines.

   •   Reviewed certification documentation for CHDOs to ensure that the City certified the
       nonprofit organizations before committing HOME funds to them.

   •   Reviewed documentation, including written agreements, CHDO certifications,
       contractors’ requests for payment, detailed expenditure reports, journal entries, and
       payroll registers, to determine the eligibility of CHDOs, and the HOME activities and
       associated costs included in our commitment and expenditure samples.

We selected a nonstatistical sample of 10 of 276 HOME activity commitments reported in the
information system on HUD’s PR-22 report from January 2014 through December 2016 to
determine whether the commitments reported to HUD were accurate and properly supported.



                                               8
Those 10 commitments represented more than $868,000, or 18.3 percent, of the City’s total
$4,736,428 of HOME funds committed during the audit period from January 2014 through
December 2016. The sample was selected based on commitments of $75,000 or greater.

Therefore, the results of this audit apply only to the items reviewed and cannot be projected to
the universe of commitments.

Computer-processed data generated by the City were not used to materially support our audit
findings, conclusions, and recommendations. Thus, we did not assess the reliability of the
computer-processed data. Instead, our conclusions were based on the supporting documentation
obtained during the audit, including but not limited to expenditure support documents, contracts,
agreements, and CHDO certification letters.

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
objectives. 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 operations – Policies and procedures that management has
    implemented to provide reasonable assurance that a program meets its objectives, while
    considering cost effectiveness and efficiency.
•   Validity and reliability of information – Policies and procedures that management has
    implemented to reasonably ensure that valid and reliable information is obtained, maintained,
    and fairly disclosed in reports.
•   Compliance with laws and regulations – Policies and procedures that management has
    implemented to reasonably ensure that program implementation is in accordance with laws
    and regulations.
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 items are significant deficiencies:

•   The City’s staff did not comply with HUD’s HOME program guidance concerning contract
    execution requirements and commitment deadlines (finding).




                                                  10
Appendix A


             Auditee Comments and OIG’s Evaluation

Ref to OIG
Evaluation
              Auditee Comments




Comment 1




                               11
             Auditee Comments
Ref to OIG
Evaluation




Comment 1




                            12
                       OIG Evaluation of Auditee Comments

Comment 1   The City stated that their staff had identified the weakness of not always dating
            the contracts and was actively seeking corrective action prior to the OIG
            audit. The officials also stated that the new Chief of Housing and Community
            Development Division is updating policies and procedures, creating a desk
            manual for employees, and added checks and balances to contract routing
            procedures, including the review of signatures and dates. The City further
            stated that with the internal controls in place, it will be more efficient and
            effective managing the program to provide reasonable assurance it meets its
            objectives, reliable reports are timely, all contracts are executed properly, and
            are in accordance with the guidelines and regulations. Lastly, the City stated
            that monitoring policies and procedures have been strengthened and
            implemented so the City can address audit issues in a timely manner and
            incorporate corrective actions going forward.
            We acknowledge that the City has begun taking action. The City must work
            with HUD to provide adequate supporting documentation and ensure that all
            corrective actions are completed and effective to address the recommendations
            during the audit resolution process.




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