Sunday, August 25, 2019

Puerto Rico Council on Developmental Disabilities placed into receivership

By on June 4, 2019

Aafaf Director Christian Sobrino, the governor’s representative to the fiscal oversight board for Puerto Rico (CB file photo)

2nd entity to nearly see federal funding halt

SAN JUAN – The Puerto Rico Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority (AAFAF by its Spanish acronym) recently declared a receivership for the Council on Developmental Disabilities (CDD), an entity attached to the Puerto Rico Planning Board (PRPB).

The action, the fiscal agency said, is intended correct “serious deficiencies identified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which jeopardize approximately $2.5 million in federal grants intended for the creation of programs that benefit Puerto Rico’s population with developmental disabilities.”

The CDD was placed in the Tier 3 High Risk category on Jan. 17, 2013. Since then, the federal government has requested corrective action plans and provided technical assistance; however, the CDD has not properly addressed the findings.

On Feb. 4, the CDD received a final warning that the federal grant allocation could be terminated. The noncompliance is grounded mainly on improper fiscal and program management. The findings include, among others, improper management and spending of federal funds, and administrative expenses in excess of those authorized by federal rules.

AAFAF Executive Director Christian Sobrino said the PRPB also issued similar findings after it conducted an audit of the fiscal operations of the CDD. The audit revealed multiple irregularities, such as the creation of projects beyond the period established by the federal government, lack of activities to make public the availability of funds, and delay in the proposal approval processes.

“This background of noncompliance with fiscal and program requirements has limited the creation of projects for the benefit persons with developmental disabilities and their families,” an Aafaf release reads.

The president of the PRPB, María Gordillo said she will continue fulfilling her responsibilities to guarantee that the funds are used appropriately, following state and federal regulations, according to the release.

“AAFAF will immediately address the findings of the Federal Government. We will submit a Corrective Action Plan to correct the deficiencies, and fulfill the promise of the Administration of Governor Ricardo Rosselló to restore the services our people deserve. We will not allow the loss of federal funds due to poor management of the administrative structure of this Council. We are going to fix this once and for all.” Sobrino Vega said.

The CDD is the second entity placed into receivership by AAFAF, which said it was forced to place the administrative component of the Persons with Disability Advocacy Office (PDAO) into receivership on March 26 due to similar deficiencies pointed out by HHS.

“Since AAFAF’s intervention, direct and effective communications have been established with the Federal Government, and a Corrective Action Plan addressing the findings has been successfully approved. Thus AAFAF avoided a process that would have terminated federal funding for the PDAO, guaranteeing the benefits and continuity of services to persons with disabilities.”

The receivership of the CDD will remain in effect until the executive director of AAFAF certifies that the noncompliance and deficiencies have been corrected.

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