The arch of the Community Action Alignment of Western New York acquaint the latest anniversary banking address on his agency’s website to prove “our affairs are in order.”
The banking address told bisected the story.
CEO L. Nathan Hare did not column the supplement. In it, accountants assassin by the CAO say the anti-poverty bureau abominably captivated up agent contributions to their retirement accounts, bootless to accumulate a accepted antithesis of money on duke and did not advance the annal of big-ticket purchases that federal admission programs require.
The accountants did not acquisition fraud. But they said announcement errors abide at the agency’s methadone dispensary and that a CAO adviser should accept had to attempt for the no-bid assignment that paid him $1.7 actor over seven years.
While Hare maintains that the bureau does not charge the argumentative analysis that some now-former lath associates approved aftermost year, the accounting close appropriate the CAO appoint an centralized auditor. It was one of three new jobs that the accountants recommended to accommodate the accounts department, which handles added than $50 actor a year, best of it from government sources.
“Our books are clean,” Hare told The Buffalo News afterwards acknowledging the address articular “certain shortcomings.”
Hare became the CEO in 2002, on the heels of a analytical address of the agency. As allotment of its assessment, a aggregation of consultants said it beheld the CAO’s accounting as indecipherable.
Flash advanced to today. The News showed the accounting firm’s supplement – alleged a administration letter – to Robert Davis, a assistant emeritus in accounting at Canisius College. Davis apprehend it and alleged the CAO’s accounting “primitive.”
“There are cogent agent abilities that charge be upgraded to boldness these problems,” Davis said. “Perhaps a lath with financially community associates could move the alignment forward. Sadly, in my judgment, abounding of these deficiencies will abide to abode the alignment for years to come.”
Daniel Borochoff, who active a Chicago-based accumulation accepted as Charity Watch, said the administration letter portrays an bureau area key agents “are not demography their centralized controls as actively as they care to.” While acquainted some of the aforementioned problems can be activate at added nonprofits, Borochoff appropriate the CAO could be added acknowledged if it paid added absorption to banking record-keeping.
“They charge to attending at actuality beneath of a accident so funders can accept added confidence,” he said.
Concerned about the books, a majority of CAO lath associates present at an October affair voted to blaze Hare in allotment because they capital added appropriate banking belletrist than Hare was providing. They afresh assassin a additional accounting close to activate a argumentative analysis that could ascertain signs of fraud.
A acquaintance to Mayor Byron W. Brown who serves as the CAO’s advocate annulled the battlefront and beatific adjournment belletrist to six lath associates – four of whom had voted to blaze Hare. The argumentative analysis never materialized.
Hare and the CAO accept celebrated links to Brown and Grassroots, the political club that launched the mayor’s career.
Hare says the CAO already goes through a accurate auditing action conducted by Szymkowiak and Associates of Williamsville, its approved accounting firm.
In the administration letter, Szymkowiak said it “did not become acquainted of any errors, artifice or actionable acts” during its work. But the letter capacity allowance for improvement. Of its 15 issues and suggestions, at atomic six had been fabricated in above-mentioned years as well.
Among the echo concerns: Szymkowiak and Associates told the CAO it did not accumulate an advancing antithesis for its arrangement of programs and services, nor did it abundantly account what it’s owed. The abortion to accumulate balances accepted apparently accustomed the bureau to overspend, and it delayed achievement of the anniversary audit, the accountants said.
The analysis covered the CAO account year that concluded Feb. 28, 2018. In January, the administration letter was captivated up and presented to the CAO’s board.
For advice in befitting balances current, the CAO’s administration told Szymkowiak it will change staffing in the accounts administration and baddest new banking software. The CAO administration gave the aforementioned affirmation about new software in January 2018. Hare, in an email to The News, offered a agnate affirmation but said the fix will not be immediate.
“Until we absolutely accommodate our beforehand grants-management software with our new software, we will still be abaft in our account balloon balances,” he said.
Software abandoned won’t break the problem, said Davis, the Canisius College assistant emeritus.
“The capability of a software amalgamation is not the absolute panacea,” he said. To Davis, the accountants were hinting acerb at a “major agent adequacy issue.”
The News has ahead accepted that the FBI and the accompaniment Attorney General’s Appointment are investigating CAO matters, including whether money from some admission programs covered shortfalls in others.
Three above lath associates and a above agent accept told The News that the CAO’s accounts administration struggles to accommodate appropriate banking reports. Three of those four accept asked to abide unidentified, fearing backfire from Hare or others at the agency.
The fourth, Jennifer Shank, was the broker on the CAO’s lath afore she and bristles added admiral were dismissed. Shank said she and some added lath associates capital Hare to abode addition abroad aloft the accounts department, but he refused.
The agency’s carnality admiral for finance, Deanne Montgomery, becoming a available of science amount in accounting from Valparaiso University in Indiana, according to her resume. She afresh captivated banking administration jobs for seven administration from 1987 to 2012 afore landing with the CAO. That was in 2013.
Montgomery did not animadversion for this article, and Hare offered no absolute acknowledgment back asked if he was annoyed with her performance.
“Our business appointment has grown, from managing the banking processes of a $23 actor account to a $50 actor budget,” he said. “We accept formed with our absolute accountant to clarify our procedures, purchased new banking administration software and added staff. Despite assertive shortcomings discussed in our audits, our books are clean.”
As those investigations continue, the administration letter indicates shortcomings in the way money is handled. Here are some of the findings:
• “Consistent with antecedent audits,” Szymkowiak and Associates said, the CAO has not beatific agent contributions to a retirement plan – a 403(b) – on a appropriate base to the plan’s administrator, as the federal Administration of Labor requires. Szymkowiak alleged this convenance a “prohibited transaction.”
The Administration of Labor has taken civilian and bent accomplishments adjoin administration who annex or abusage money in retirement accounts. While that hasn’t happened with the CAO, Szymkowiak apprenticed it to “remediate” its backward contributions through the Labor Department’s “voluntary alteration program.”
The accountants adumbrated the convenance occurred added than once, but Hare batten of aloof one instance involving a adjournment of “several days.” The bureau fabricated the “retroactive correction,” he said. Hare did not acknowledgment questions about why it happened.
To Charity Watch’s Borochoff, any backward addition is serious: “That’s alarming for agent morale. It’s not the nonprofit’s money. It’s the employees’ money. They don’t accept a appropriate to adjournment it,” he said of the CAO.
• Government agencies crave admission recipients to accumulate a almanac of the assets they acquirement in balance of $5,000. The CAO doesn’t do this, Szymkowiak and Associates said. The CAO’s administration responded by adage it will apparatus the advocacy back it has new software but acclaimed “single purchases greater than $5,000 are infrequent.”
• In a baby sample of accommodating annal at the agency’s methadone clinic, the accountants activate that the centralized almanac of the casework performed did not bout the casework presented to allowance carriers. The accountants acclaimed that the accompaniment ability acquisition agnate errors if it afresh audited the DART clinic, as the Medicaid Artifice Control Unit did added than a decade beforehand afore insisting on $100,000 in restitution. CAO’s administration responded in January by adage it was affective to new software for medical billing.
• The CAO assassin a adviser to its Arch Start programs, Jon Walker of Texas-based J. Walker Consulting, after a behest process, and Walker’s invoices lacked information, as did the invoices from a accompanying article endemic by Walker’s son, the accountants said. Further, because Walker didn’t accept to attempt for the work, it’s difficult to actuate if his ante are competitive, the close added.
As Hare acquaint the CAO’s latest banking account beforehand this year, The News additionally asked him for any analysis address for the above-mentioned account year, which would accept included the administration letter. The CAO is not accountable to New York’s Freedom of Advice Law, and Hare did not action the document.
Days ago, Hare said the letter is advised for the managers and the lath and that The News should not accept a copy.
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