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We audited the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program administered by Hillsborough County, FL, as part of the activities in our 2013 fiscal year annual audit plan.  We selected the County for review based on a complaint referral from the Office of Inspector General’s Office of Investigation on a public complaint alleging the County’s misuse of CDBG funds for the County’s cleanup events.  Our audit objective was to determine whether the County administered its CDBG program in accordance with applicable U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requirements.  Specifically, we wanted to determine whether the County’s CDBG program (1) met national objectives and (2) incurred expenditures that were eligible and reasonable.

The County failed to properly administer its CDBG program in accordance with HUD requirements.  Specifically, it did not ensure that its code enforcement and interim assistance activities met national objectives and charged allowable expenditures.  These conditions occurred because the County (1) staff was not familiar with CDBG requirements, (2) did not verify the eligibility of target areas, (3) had an interest in ensuring that certain areas were federally funded or labeled as Federal low-income areas, (4) had weak management and accounting controls, (5) lacked sufficient levels of monitoring reviews, and (6) did not exercise due care to ensure that expenditures were eligible.  We found some of the allegations in the complaint to be valid and cited the issues and costs as a finding in the report.  As a result of our findings, HUD had no assurance that approximately $1 million charged was properly expended.

We recommend that HUD require the County to (1) support that national objectives and eligibility requirements were met or repay HUD $784,469 from non-Federal funds; (2) repay HUD $231,623 from non-Federal funds for ineligible costs; (3) develop, implement, and enforce controls and sufficient levels of monitoring to ensure that CDBG requirements are met; and (4) train its staff on CDBG requirements.