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Audit Reveals $44.8 Million Oversight Failure in Washington State Education Spending

(photo: K-12 Dive)

Washington state agencies mishandled $1.17 billion in federal COVID-19 aid due to documentation issues in fiscal year 2023.

Federal COVID-19 Aid Mismanagement in Washington State

Washington state agencies are facing scrutiny after a recent audit by the State Auditor’s Office revealed they mishandled over $1.17 billion in federal COVID-19 aid due to documentation issues in the fiscal year 2023. Despite this significant finding, federal demands for repayment are rare with agencies typically working together to address audit concerns and improve compliance.

According to Adam Wilson from the SAO, federal agencies infrequently demand repayment for misused funds preferring instead to collaborate with states to fix problems. In the last fiscal year, Washington received more than $29 billion in federal funds making the $1.17 billion in questioned spending about 4.1% of the total, according to the report of Just The News.

READ ALSO: 85% Of Taxpayers Warned: Beware Of IRS-Targeted Scams And Fraudulent Fake Clean Energy Tax Credit Claims

Students mingle as they walk down halls at Centralia High School Tuesday morning on their way to class.

Audit Reveals Oversight Failures in Washington State Agencies

The audit uncovered several oversight failures by state agencies. For example, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction didn’t properly track subcontractors resulting in $44.8 million in unaccounted spending after a responsible staff member retired. The Department of Commerce also struggled failing to ensure $4.1 million in payments for the Emergency Rental Assistance program were properly vetted due to staffing turnover.

Another major issue was the Washington State Department of Transportation’s failure to enforce prevailing wage rules for subcontractors. Delays in submitting payroll records further violated federal requirements despite staffing challenges during large construction projects.

State agencies are now working to address these issues and improve oversight. The U.S. Department of Labor declined to comment on potential actions regarding repayment but continues to evaluate audit findings as part of its oversight duties.

READ ALSO: 1.5 Million Borrowers Rejoice: Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program Resumes – Simplifying Student Debt Relief

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