When last we left State Treasurer John Kennedy, he was announcing that 36 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have until Aug. 31 to fulfill their reporting requirements under terms of more than $4.45 million in grants they received from the state or be turned over to the Office of Debt Recovery.
We wish him well in this endeavor. His efforts are certainly fiscally responsible.
LouisianaVoice took a little closer look at some of those 36 recipients and made several interesting discoveries:
- Of the 36, only 15, or 41.7 percent were still listed as organizations in good standing with the Secretary of State’s office as required for qualification for the grants. Those 15 combined to receive $2,265,000, or 50.9 percent of the total amount received;
- Nine ($1.1 million) were listed as no longer in good standing with the Secretary of State and nine others ($450,000) were listed as inactive.
- Three ($645,000) were never listed with the Secretary of State as required.
Even more interesting was the discovery that five of the organizations with combined grants of $1,955,000 have seven active contracts with the state in amounts totaling more than twice that amount—nearly $4.4 million, according to figures provided by Louisiana Transparency and Accountability (LaTrac), a master online list of state contracts.
And while each of the contracts has a different starting date, each runs through April 4, 2049, according to LaTrac records. No reason was given for contracts of such long duration but LouisianaVoice has submitted a public records request for copies of the contracts and explanations of the scope of work to be performed under the contracts.
While no years were given for when any of the organizations received their respective state grants, the most interesting entity on that list was Rapides Primary Health Care Center in Alexandria which Kennedy has asked to provide an accounting for the $550,000 in NGO money it received from the state.
At the same time, Rapides Primary Health Care Center has two contracts with the state totaling $1,525,000.
The first, for $1,025,000 (issued on Jan. 19, 1996), calls for the construction of a health care center building and the second, for $500,000 (issued on March 2, 2007), is for emergency roof and equipment replacement and building repairs, planning and construction.
There are others.
- The Colomb Foundation of Lafayette has a $369,875 contract that began in 2008 with the state for the completion of building and grounds improvements but is being asked to account for a $300,000 state grant.
- The Treme Community Education Center in New Orleans has two contracts totaling $2,110,000 for program operations, planning and construction (1.45 million) and for planning and construction of Leverette Senior House ($660,000). Both contracts were issued in 2001. At the same time, Treme Community Education Center is being asked to account for the disposition of $325,000 in received from the state.
- Serenity 67 of Baton Rouge has a $225,000 contract issued in 2003 for the acquisition, planning, construction and renovation of a multi-purpose center. The organization has been asked to explain how it used a $150,000 grant.
- Community Awareness Revitalization and Enhancement of New Orleans is listed as one of the nine inactive organizations by the Secretary of State. The organization’s last report was filed with the Secretary of State on Nov. 12, 2010 and it has not accounted for the manner in which a $130,000 grant was used. Yet, it has an active contract with the state in the amount of $150,000 for the planning and construction of the Claiborne Avenue Walking and Bike Path.
Besides its current contracts, Rapides Primary Health Care Center also had seven other contracts with the state totaling $535,800 which expired between the years 2004 and 2009.
The largest of the seven, for $325,000, a contract issued on July 16, 2006 and ending on June 30, 2007, was for equipment and other items to provide primary and preventive health care services in the medically-underserved area of Rapides Parish.
Another contract for $90,000, which ran from April 1, 2004 to March 16, 2005, was issued to provide family planning services to individuals and families in Rapides and a third, for $82,000, ran from Oct. 1, 2004 to Sept. 30, 2007, called for the facility to provide Women, Infants and Children (WIC) food and nutrition services for Rapides Parish.
But there is a lot more to this story than 36 non-profit organizations crowding around the public trough. It’s about accountability and playing fast and loose with the public’s money. A lot of people have a lot of questions to answer and we’re willing to wager not a single member of the legislature—or any state agency head, for that matter—can tell us to what purpose these funds were used—or by whom.
The amount—$4.5 million—is rather miniscule in the overall scheme of things, in a state budget running into the billions where contracts for hundreds of millions of dollars are funneled to political allies and former employers with little thought of the cumulative costs to taxpayers. The lack of accountability is symptomatic of a much larger problem—a complete loss of public confidence in the ability—or willingness—of Baton Rouge to keep the interest of the citizenry uppermost in mind.
The state may get some of these funds back but in all likelihood won’t come close to recovering all of it. Even if it does recover every dime, there are literally hundreds upon hundreds of state contracts where there is little to no oversight. The public funds that are sucked up in these contracts dwarf any amount these 36 non-governmental organizations may have received in public largesse.http://louisianavoice.com/category/orm-office-of-risk-management/page/3/
No, the NGOs are not the real problem here.
The problem is the GOs.