Department of Elementary and Secondary Education responds to Schweich's Single Audit criticism

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - A day after Missouri’s top auditor criticized the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for not properly monitoring federal stimulus money, a department spokesperson defended DESE’s position.

Upon releasing the findings of Missouri’s Statewide Single Audit – an annual review of how state agencies manage federal funds – Auditor Tom Schweich, leveled some strong criticism at DESE for once again failing to monitor the usage of federal stimulus dollars until after the end of the fiscal year.

“There’s no sense in reviewing those funds after they’ve already been spent – you can’t change anything after the fact,” the auditor said.

But according to DESE spokesman Ron Lankford, education funds that the state received through the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act weren’t intended to prompt new monitoring above what already takes place.

The ARRA funding has mainly gone to the state’s public school foundation formula, special education and Title I programs. Lankford said these continuing programs are monitored yearly, but insisted the number of school districts verses the available DESE staff would make it impossible to track the flow of stimulus money during the fiscal year.

“(The federal government) did not expect states to initiate any monitoring above what was already being done,” Lankford said.

The Single Audit report has been performed by the state auditor every year since 1996, but has attracted more attention in recent years in light of the ARRA legislation and the growing federal deficit. It is the biggest audit performed by the state auditor’s office, with federal money making up more than half of Missouri’s budget last year.