LOS ANGELES – The Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to give Los Angeles County’s child welfare agency 60 days to explain how it will curb inappropriate spending on office supplies and other goods.
Supervisor Hilda Solis suggested that the corrective action plan, based on an audit completed in July, could include oversight by another county department.
“The Department of Children and Family Services serves as a haven for children and families and must be kept to the highest of standards,” Solis said in a statement. “My hope is that DCFS will adhere to the corrective action plan that will help repair and improve their internal processes.”
An audit of the department’s procurement operations in 2007 led to dozens of recommendations about purchasing practices, inventory controls and the appropriate use of program funds.
The recent audit cited by Solis was designed to determine if DCFS had put key recommendations into practice. The review revealed material deficiencies and workers who circumvented internal controls.
Staffers use brokers to make purchases that don’t require a middleman, ignore purchasing limits and rules about getting multiple bids for goods and services and over-order thousands of dollars worth of office supplies, according to the review.
“Some of these weaknesses resulted in purchase prices thousands of dollars in excess of what otherwise could have been obtained,” the auditor-controller’s report stated.
The department also maintains inaccurate inventories and poor controls on gift cards and event tickets, according to auditors.
DCFS instituted new policies and training in response to the 2007 audit and responded to the most recent findings point-by-point, often with comments about additional training or expansion of existing policies.
However, auditors said the agency’s leaders needed to “change the culture” and hold violators accountable if they expect workers to follow the rules.
Auditors said the policies seemed to be violated out of expediency and did not suggest corruption.
Solis said other audits related to the department’s management of transit passes and child care subsidies also highlighted issues of concern.
“Any misuse of our county’s resources deserves immediate attention and solution,” Solis said.