Meadville Tribune

State News

October 9, 2013

Counties trying to untangle mess following regional job training agency audit

Robert Snyder Jr., chairman of the Northwest Pennsylvania Workforce Investment Board, is blunt in his assessment of actions by the previous board after a recent state audit found questionable and wasteful spending.

“We need to clean it up and get it straightened out,” Snyder said on Wednesday following a meeting of the six chief local elected officials who now oversee the regional job training agency.

The Workforce Investment Board (WIB) is responsible for job training in Crawford, Erie, Venango, Warren, Forest and Clarion counties.

“This has been a long time getting messed up, and it’s going to take a long time to fix it,” according to Snyder, chairman of the six chief local elected officials (CLEOs) — one from each of the six counties — who now oversee the WIB. Snyder also serves as one of Forest County’s commissioners.

The 51-page state audit, released Aug. 12 by the Governor’s Budget Office, lambasted spending and the lack of fiscal transparency by the nonprofit Regional Center for Workforce Excellence (RCWE) of Meadville, the then fiscal agent of the WIB. The 51-page state audit covered the period of July 1, 2009, through June 30, 2012.

Local government officials were the ones who sought the audit.

Formed in 2003, the RCWE was put in Meadville to be centrally located for the six counties. According to the state report, the RCWE received $12 million in federal job training funds from July 1, 2009, through June 30, 2012.

The state audit said the RCWE “has pushed the limits of their authority,” and has “not always been clear in the information provided to decision makers.” In some instances, the fiscal agent “ignored the guidance or requests” of the CLEOs, the auditors said.

On Aug. 19, the CLEOs who oversee the WIB unanimously voted to suspend the then 46-member WIB board for up to 90 days and have the six act as the WIB board’s executive committee; and appointed the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry as the acting fiscal agent.

“I have no clue,” Snyder responded when asked if anyone could end up facing criminal charges.

Financial information from the RCWE is being forwarded to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry to review where the money was spent, Snyder said. The Department of Labor and Industry oversees job training at the state level.

“We need to respond to the audit, restructure the WIB, get it back up and running and get this resolved by the end of the year,” Snyder said. “I don’t like that time frame because I’m not a patient person.”

The CLEOs are considered the grant recipients, and the counties are liable for any misuse of grant funds, according to Jack Lynch, Crawford County’s representative who oversees the WIB. Lynch serves as treasurer of the CLEOs.

Lynch has said Crawford and the other counties ultimately would be held liable for any potential misspending of funds. Until the state review is completed later this year, it’s unknown how much, if any, money may have been misspent and whether it would have to be repaid.

The audit had five major findings — board members, former board members and business partners of board members benefited financially from relationships with the WIB; the RCWE exceeded its authority and lacked transparency; unallowable, wasteful and misuse of workforce development funds; a lack of internal controls over accounting; and inaccurate accounting and use of grant funds.

Among the audit findings were instances of meeting minutes that were edited by RCWE personnel to omit specific information, and that financial statements “lacked clarity.”

The audit found between 2010 and 2012, $113,474 was expensed to the “Food Meetings” category in the RCWE’s accounting system.

The audit found lunches were purchased by the fiscal agent’s chief executive, for herself and other non-employees on a regular basis, with no documented business reason to have these meetings during lunch or even to have the meetings.

1
Text Only
State News
  • Well inspectors trying to keep up during boom time

    The state’s 83 well inspectors face a daunting enough challenge keeping tabs on 120,000 active oil and gas wells that have been drilled over the last century.

    July 27, 2014

  • PennDOT seeking outside help to make bridge repairs

    State officials are poised to sign a massive deal that will enlist outside help to rebuild and maintain up to 600 bridges, marking the Corbett administration’s latest foray into privatizing key government functions.

    July 24, 2014

  • Gov. Corbett pressures lawmakers in pension fight

    Gov. Tom Corbett is ratcheting up pressure on the Legislature to reform the state’s pension system by focusing on how often school districts use tax increases to offset costs.

    July 22, 2014

  • Experts: Expanding coverage fuels doc shortage

    Pennsylvania’s health care system absorbed more than 300,000 new patients who signed up for insurance through Obamacare’s exchanges. But experts worry the system can’t handle another wave of patients, twice as large, should the state expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

    July 13, 2014

  • Jerry Sandusky’s son tells story to Oprah Winfrey

    Jerry Sandusky’s adult son is speaking out about what he says was sexual abuse by his father.

    July 8, 2014

  • Environmentalists criticize drilling-for-dollars plan in state forests and parks

    Pennsylvania’s just finished budget calls for raising almost $100 million by expanding leases for gas development in state forests — even though leases the state has already issued are far from tapped out.

    July 3, 2014

  • Pennsylvania House approves Republicans' $29.1B budget

    The Legislature voted late Monday to put a looming, $1.5 billion shortfall in its rearview mirror, with a deal to pass a $29.1 billion budget that increases state spending by 1.8 percent but doesn’t hike taxes.

    June 30, 2014

  • Food safety delivery concerns rise with fuel prices

    A few weeks ago state agriculture inspectors forced a trucker to toss 2,000 pounds of food in the garbage after finding the cargo had not been kept at safe temperatures.

    June 15, 2014

  • Tow truckers hope to put brakes on dispatch system

    Some tow truck operators are boycotting a computerized dispatch system put in place by state police, complaining that it’s confusing and leads to longer response times than when troopers and dispatchers manage a call.

    June 1, 2014

  • 'Economics' of state gubernatorial campaigns

    Gov. Tom Corbett’s re-election campaign hailed April’s jobs numbers. Pennsylvania’s unemployment dipped to 5.7 percent — its lowest since 2008 and well below the national average of 6.3 percent.
    “The people of Pennsylvania elected me to Harrisburg on my promise of less taxes and more jobs, and we continue to see that promise ringing tr

    May 25, 2014

Business Marquee
AP Video
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks