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Audit: Mismanagement cost Autism Society $1.5M

Posted August 21, 2008

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— The Autism Society of North Carolina incurred a $1.5 million deficit last year because of bad budgeting and financial oversight, according to a state audit released Thursday.

The nonprofit receives about $11 million in state funding annually through mental health and Medicaid programs. Its objective is to serve as advocates for individuals and families with related issues and provide ongoing education for the public about the needs of the autism community.

Prompted by a tip to the State Auditor's Office hotline, an investigation determined the Autism Society’s management and board of directors didn't properly monitor financial operations and credit card use in fiscal 2007. The former finance director charged almost $2,700 for meals and parties considered inappropriate, according to the audit.

The finance director was fired and the executive director stepped down last summer. The group also had to lay off seven employees to help balance its budget.

“The board did not appear to be engaged to the point of asking appropriate questions and following up on issues related to the society’s financial condition,” State Auditor Les Merritt said in a statement. “It’s unfortunate to see such a worthy organization that meets so many needs stumble because of poor financial oversight."

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  • RUsleeping Aug 21, 2008

    The State audit found no evidance of fraud or of misappropriation of funds. The loss was related to the increase in need of services in the autism community.

    It sounds like the Autism Society has already made staff changes and other changes to get back into a fiscally sound position. The audit says a lot....

    Thank goodness families have this organization to rely upon. The support and advocacy they provide is invaluable to so many in this state. In fact many people move to NC because of the services in NC that are directly related to the Autism Society and it's ablility to advocate with the Legistlature, School Systems, etc., to assure there are supports in this state.

  • WilloWSnapper Aug 21, 2008

    because admiral, my son needs it and not you =)

  • happymom Aug 21, 2008

    "It's funded by the State"

    Not entirely. It's also funded by donations- like mine. I have a child on "the spectrum," and this just breaks my heart. So many parents rely on the Austism Society to provide guidance and support with resources they desparately need.

    I understand that most of the money was spent to provide services with not enough attention to the ability to pay for them, but better management was obviously needed. The families deserve more- especially since this report is now likely to be used as a reason to not donate (or for the state to restrict funding), and so many of us need access to these resources.

  • dplowman Aug 21, 2008

    last I heard that was called stealing. Why dont the state employes go to jail when they steal from their company?
    Anyone else would.

  • Adelinthe Aug 21, 2008

    "They should be made to pay this money back. The autism children will suffer because of it. The money was for them."

    I agree! And The Autism Society should sue if they don't get it.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • WHEEL Aug 21, 2008

    It's funded by the State and managed by beaurecats. Why are people so suprised that it is mismanaged.

  • Dr. Dataclerk Aug 21, 2008

    They should be made to pay this money back. The autism children will suffer because of it. The money was for them.

  • whocares Aug 21, 2008

    The board should be make to pay back all the money that was spent on parties and such. That is disgraceful.

  • TheAdmiral Aug 21, 2008

    Why not just funnel it to me - that money will not be wasted - I promise!

  • familyfour Aug 21, 2008

    I agree with Groovy.

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