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Pine Bluff Jefferson County Economic Opportunities Commission Did Not Always Operate Its Head Start Program in Accordance With Federal Requirements

Pine Bluff Jefferson County Economic Opportunities Commission (Pine Bluff) did not always claim Head Start grant costs that were allowable and allocable in accordance with Federal regulations. Specifically, Pine Bluff claimed $392,094 of unsupported non-Federal share; $214,372 in costs that did not meet procurement-related requirements; and $123,158 in costs that either did not benefit the Head Start program or may not have benefited the Head Start program.

In addition, Pine Bluff did not always manage the Head Start program in accordance with Federal requirements.

We made recommendations to Pine Bluff that it work with the Administration for Children and Families' Office of Head Start (OHS) to determine and refund the amount of grant funds for which Pine Bluff would not have been eligible because of the $392,094 of unsupported non-Federal share; refund $214,372 for procurement-related costs that that did not meet requirements; and refund costs that did not benefit the Head Start program and work with OHS to determine what portion of costs allocated to the Head Start program should be allocated to its other programs.

The body of the report also contains policy and procedural recommendations for Pine Bluff to account for and manage Federal funds and to operate its Head Start program in accordance with Federal regulations.

In written comments on our draft report, Pine Bluff concurred with some but not all of our findings. For the findings and recommendations it agreed with, Pine Bluff provided information on corrective actions it has taken or plans to take to address them. After reviewing Pine Bluff's comments, we maintain that all our findings are valid.

In general comments, Pine Bluff expressed concern that the recommended refund amounts will deplete its funds. Under its new management, Pine Bluff is willing to work with OHS to correct the findings, take more preventative measures, and establish a Technical Assistance Plan to demonstrate improvements that have been made to the operation of the Head Start grant.

Filed under: Administration for Children and Families