Local News

Audit: Mismanagement cost Autism Society $1.5M

Posted August 21, 2008 10:40 a.m. EDT

— 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."