Hamilton County Gets Unmodified Financial Audit: First Time in More than a Decade
Columbus – For the first time in more than a decade, the Auditor of State’s Office has issued an unmodified opinion of the audit of Hamilton County financial statements signaling an end to years of disagreements over the county’s spending of federal government funds intended for children’s services, which were instead spent on other job and family service programs.
In late 2004, both the Ohio Auditor of State and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) conducted special audits of the Hamilton County Job and family Services (HCJFS). The audits focused mainly on the use of federal funds utilized in programs administered by the HCJFS and the relationship of the cost pools that were utilized in administering the programs. In June 2006, the State Auditor issued the final report that disclosed findings for recovery and findings for adjustment for the transfer of funds. In subsequent years, ODJFS and the federal Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General also issued reports of findings. In April, the county reached an agreement with federal and state officials to pay $22.5 million to settle the matter.
“Since 2004, the state’s annual audits of Hamilton County have included either qualified or adverse opinions due to a dispute with the federal government over the categorization of millions of dollars in expenditures in the department jobs and family services,” said Auditor of State Dave Yost. “This year, however, our audit is unqualified – the best possible outcome for Hamilton County. We are also pleased that after working with Ohio and Hamilton County Job and Family Services and Health and Human Services, the county was able to resolve both the long- and short-term issues,” Yost added.
The current financial audit for the year that ended Dec. 31, 2015 included an audit of programs associated with the federal award activity of the county. The county receives federal funds directly from certain federal agencies, while other federal awards are passed through from State agencies or not-for-profit agencies: The Ohio Department of job and Family Services; Ohio Emergency Management Agency; Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services; and the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation. The audit of the federal awards provided an opinion on the county’s compliance for each of the county’s major federal programs and considered the county’s internal control over federal program compliance.
Findings from the Hamilton County audit indicate a need for improvements in three areas:
- Process improvements and timeliness of bank reconciliations by the Clerk of Courts;
- Follow-up for high-risk pregnancy cases by HCJFS to ensure individuals are receiving proper services; and
- HCJFS needs to establish procedures that encourage compliance with timely reporting of set-aside match money associated with the federal foster care funding.
A full copy of this audit is available online.
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio, is responsible for auditing more than 5,900 state and local government agencies. Under the direction of Auditor Dave Yost, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigates and prevents fraud in public agencies and promotes transparency in government.