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Taylor Releases Ohio Housing Finance Agency Audit
Makes Recommendations to Improve Operations
State Auditor Mary Taylor released the annual single audit of the Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) for fiscal year 2006 today including recommendations for improving agency operations. This is the first time the state has audited the agency’s federal funds independent of the annual state audit. A change in state law in 2005 made OHFA an independent state agency.
“The agency is experiencing some growing pains since this is the first year they’ve had to prepare their own federal reporting schedule separate from the state,” Taylor said. “While the agency is efficient in many areas, there is still room for improvement.”
OHFA distributes federal grant money to real estate owners renting properties to low-income tenants. The agency’s single audit reviews how the grant money was spent and if it complies with federal regulations.
“Failure to comply with federal grant regulations reduces the overall effectiveness of the agency and could subject OHFA to sanctions or penalties including the repayment of a grant or a decrease in future funding,” Taylor said.
Two major findings listed in the audit relate to housing assistance payments and on-site housing inspections.
- Housing assistance payments – Property owners submit a form to OHFA detailing the amount of federal grant money requested for low-income tenants. OHFA employees review the forms and verify payments sent to property owners. Auditors observed instances of overpayments made to property owners totaling $1,048. The amounts questioned have since been repaid. The agency says the overpayments were a result of human error. Taylor recommends the agency increase oversight of the payment program and identify instances where it is necessary to retrieve additional overpayments made to property owners.
- On-site housing inspections – Federal regulations require OHFA to perform on-site inspections of rental housing no less than every three years for buildings containing one to four units, every two years for buildings containing five to 25 units, and once a year for buildings containing at least 26 units. Auditors noted that in many cases, on-site inspections were overdue anywhere from two to five years and that OHFA had no policy in place to ensure agency compliance with the requirement. Taylor suggests the agency implement policies to ensure compliance with this requirement to ensure the security of future federal funding.
The Ohio Auditor of State’s Office is one of the largest public accounting offices in the nation. The Office strives to ensure that all public funds are spent legally and appropriately and works aggressively to root out fraud, waste and abuse in public spending. Taylor encourages anyone suspecting fraud or misspending of public dollars to contact her office toll free at 1-866-FRAUD-OH (1-866-372-8364).
A copy of the full audit is available online at http://www.auditor.state.oh.us/AuditSearch/Reports/2007/Ohio_Housing_Finance_Agency_06-Franklin.pdf.